Percussion Play: Ionisation

Varèse’s Ionisation.

Pierre Boulez conducting the Ensemble InterContemporain.

Playing around with different kinds of pitch (fixed, variable or indefinite) and rhythm, Ionisation was the first piece written for percussion ensemble alone. Nicholas Slonimsky, who conducted the premiere in 1933, talks about the composer in an archived recorded interview here from 1973. He describes Varèse as ”a huge, French desert.”

It definitely gets funky at around the 2-minute mark.

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