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Ton de Leeuw - Mouvements Rétrogrades (1)

1y ago
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Ton de Leeuw (1926-1996) Mouvements Rétrogrades (1957) Orchestra: Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Conductor: George Szell As a student of Badings and for a while after, de Leeuw was influenced by Bartók, Hindemith and Pijper, for example in the Sonata for two pianos (1950), which exhibits Pijpers germ cell technique. However, after hearing Webern at the Darmstadt summer courses in 1953, he rapidly turned to an exploration of total chromaticism and serialism, one of the first Dutch composers so to do. Mouvements rétrogrades (1957) typifies de Leeuws careful approach, each of its ten movements twice presenting a rhythmic mirror form. Based on a pan-chromatic harmonic grid of four augmented triads, the music is related by the composer to the image of a revolving crystal that remains the same in itself, but continually reflects light in different ways. In the same year as the Mouvements, de Leeuw wrote the serial Electronic Study, and, as with serialism, his electronic work played an important introductory role to the medium for many in the Netherlands. The String Quartet no.1 (1958) still employs a strict serial technique, applied to durations (including rests) and dynamics. However, allied to Webern and Japanese traditional music especially through the surrounding of note patterns by silence it is consciously distant from, as de Leeuw saw it, the latent Expressionism in serialism. A meeting with Cage at the 1958 World Exhibition in Brussels helped to distance de Leeuw further from serial thought, though he was not entirely sympathetic to Cages concepts of chance and indeterminacy. De Leeuws visit to India in 1961 led to his hearing the dhrupad singers Ustad Moinuddin and Ustad Aminuddin Dagar in Delhi; they made a lasting impression and provoked a deep interest in melodic, rhythmic and timbral sophistication. The opening of Symphonies of Winds (1963) reflects this Indian experience: it is a cumulative presentation of a fixed field of melodic formulas, modelled upon the classical Indian ālāp, which was to inspire the opening of many later compositions too, e.g. Mountains (1977) and Résonances (19845). However, Symphonies of Winds also presents a quotation from Symphonies of Wind Instruments by Stravinsky, to whom the piece is dedicated, the work thus marking the start of a period in which de Leeuw turned to past Western music, as well as to non-Western traditions.