Known for his scientific explorations of timbre and his innovative syntheses of acoustic and electronic techniques, Tristan Murail is regarded as a composer of the "spectral school." He accepts untempered sound as the basis for his expansive musical language, far removed from tonality, serialism, and aleatoric procedures. Gondwana was developed from electronic music concepts, and its expanding and contracting bands of complex sounds are analogous to those generated through a synthesizer. Shimmering clusters, washes of color, and massed, low sonorities evoke the slow shifting of continents. The Orchestre National de France, directed by Yves Prin, delivers this work with primordial grandeur and astonishing depth. Because of its smaller forces, Désintégrations is more focused and intense than Gondwana, though no less cosmic in its implications. The Ensemble de l'Itinéraire blends effectively with the electronic tape, so it is difficult to distinguish acoustic from synthetic sounds. Time and Again is a departure from the familiar practice of slowly unfolding processes, for its chopped-up material is jumbled, as if sequential events were reordered in a time machine.
Yves Nat's performance of the Beethoven sonatas is a remarkable feat–His interpretations are "natural" as though the music is being composed as he plays. Therefore, the performances offer an inner satisfaction to the listener. Nat is also a great pianist with a beautiful tone and solid technique welded to his conceptions. A sleeper set that stands comparison to more famous versions.
Shortly after the death of Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008), his lover Pierre Bergé talks to the camera about their life together, moving chronologically from their meeting when 21-year-old Saint Laurent became creative director at Christian Dior upon the founder's death, through twice-annual unveilings of new collections, life in Marrakesh, Saint Laurent's depression and drug use, sobriety, and retirement. The boxing and auctioning of their vast collection of art brings the story to a close. Archival photos and news footage as well as interviews with a few friends give texture to Bergé's account.