Luc Ferrari


mode 81

Ferrari: Edition 1 – Chansons pour le corps


mode 81 Luc FERRARI:081ferrari Vol.1 – Chansons pour le corps (1988-94) . for voice, 2 clarinets, percussion, piano & synthesizer (Elise Caron, voice); Et si tout entière maintenant. (1986-87), conte symphonique for voice, orchestra & tapes (Anne Sèe, voice, Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique/Yves Prin).

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Ferrari: Edition 1 - Chansons pour le corps

1.  Chanson 1 “Les Yeux”
Interlude d’instruments (9:53)
2.  Chanson 2 “Les Mains”
Développement d’instruments (5:31)
3.  Chanson 3 “Les Seins” (3:19)
4.  Chanson 4 “Le Sexe”
Interlude d’instruments (12:40)
5.  Interruption d’instruments
Chanson 5 “Chantons dans les silence” (9:40)
Elise Caron, voice
Carol Mundinger, Sylvan Frydman, clarinets
Christine Lagniel, percussion
Michel Maurer, piano
Michel Musseau, synthesizer

Et si tout entière maintenant. (1986-87)  34:08
Symphonic tale / Conte symphonique / Symphonische Dichtung for actress, tapes & orchestra
Anne Sèe, voice
Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique
Yves Prin, conductor

With recent releases on John Zorn’s Tzadik label among others, Luc Ferrari is enjoying a well deserved renaissance. After studies with Messiaen and formative visits to Darmstadt in the ’50s, Ferrari (born Paris, 1929), with Pierre Schaeffer, was one of the co-founders of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in 1959. In the sixties he worked with the Ensemble Instrumental de Musique Contemporaine de Paris and made the first French television documentaries on new music, between 1964-69, he taught in Cologne, Stockholm and Amiens. His pioneering electroacoustic music has evolved through installations to sound art and eventually to the hörspiel (radio play), making him one of the most unique and creative voices in music. This CD marks the first release in a series of Luc Ferrari’s music on Mode Records.

The works on this disc show a combination of his musique concréte and instrumental styles. The point of departure for Chansons pour le corps was a series of spontaneous interviews with women on the subject of the female form, which Ferrari recorded in the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s a great image, a young woman out for a Sunday afternoon stroll approached by a man wondering if she might allow him to record her talking about various intimate parts of her body! The interviewees were invited to speak about their eyes, hands, breasts and sex, and those who accepted did so with extraordinary candor. Novelist and radio presenter Colette Fellous was then asked to write texts based on the tapes. These were set for soprano and ensemble and interspersed with extracts from the original interviews. Ferrari states: “.the interpretation of the Chansons could be very simple, in a voice without vibrato, paying special attention to the words and their meaning.”

Et si tout entiére maintenant, a “symphonic tale” for voice, orchestral sound, and tape is an extraordinary and unique work. The orchestral score was performed, recorded, and then treated electronically in Ferrari’s studio; though the orchestra is never deformed beyond all recognition. This is incorporated into the piece along with authentic sounds of the Swedish icebreaker and its crew, and Fellous’ spoken text. What results is typical Ferrari genre-blending, inhabiting a region somewhere between fact and fiction, documentary and poetry, orchestral and electronic music. The text can be at times straightforward, at times tantalizingly ambiguous -dare we imagine some sort of sexual intrigue between the woman and the captain as well as the pilot? Fellous juxtaposes first and third person narrative, direct and reported speech, in a manner analogous to Ferrari’s masterly mix of composed music and recorded sound. Fellous says: “.(Ferrari) asked me to board the dream and tell him the story. So we set to work. He brought me sounds, I brought him texts. A rhythm was born. In such a way we tangled, untangled, mixed noises and words, fiction and reality, and from this came a symphonic tale whose sensual warmth tries to turn back the cold.”


Luc Ferrari
Chansons pour le corps

Mode 81

Chansons pour le corps (1988-94) – Et si tout entière maintenant… (1986-87) Elise Caron, voix – Anne Sée, narration. Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique, direction Yves Prin
MODE81 – 0764593008125 – DDD – 75:28 – Enregistré en mars 1995 à la Salle Olivier Messiaen, Radio-France, Paris

Chansons pour le corps est une suite de morceaux dans laquelle alternent chants et interludes instrumentaux. Les parties vocales reprennent des interviews préenregistrées de femmes, résultant du hasard des rencontres, mêlées à un écho vocal écrit. Ferrari recherche constamment, dans son accompagnement, une illustration musicalement belle et lyrique, souvent onirique et hypnotique, don’t certains étagements harmoniques ne sont pas sans évoquer les accords de couleurs de Messiaen. Et si tout entière maintenant, ” Conte symphonique “, s’annonce comme une bande-son de documentaire ;d’ailleurs, Ferrari reprend des sons enregistrés dans un port, puis sur un navire, auxquels répond l’orchestre. Moins épidermiquement sensuel que Chansons pour le corps, l’ouvrage explore le monde sonore évoqué par les voyages maritimes – c’est d’ailleurs à bord d’un brise-glace que Ferrari composa son Conte symphonique, qui porte parfaitement bien son titre de conte. À essayer sans idée préconçue, cela en vaut la peine.
Diapason, October 2000

Chansons pour le corps; Et si entiere maintenant…
Mode 81

Luc Ferrari (b. 1929) is a distinctive French composer who is refreshingly hard to characterize. Most liner notes can’t help but use “mercurial” to describe Ferrari. You will find instruments and voices in his work, sometimes instruments and voices are joined with tape, and sometimes there is just tape alone. Ferrari has also produced television documentaries about the rehearsal process of music by Messiaen and others (Ferrari crossed the Atlantic in 1955 to meet Varèse, and one of his video documentaries is about Varèse.).

Ferrari enjoys being a composer. He loves to put something in front of an audience and wait for responses. He clearly relishes those moments where he has our attention and he has the chance to utter profundities or to say nothing. Titles may offend or actually be meaningless or misleading, and some might find his music outright tedious, pointless, or insulting. This is music that confronts, but gradually reveals sly humor and intellect, and enormous compositional technique and skill.

Ferrari will go down in the history books as a master of using pre-recorded tape with instruments. Two recordings with works which are classics: Programme Commun for harpsichord and tape (1972) on ADDA 581233, and the classic musique concrete Presque rien No. 1, ou le lever du jour au bord de la mer (1967-1970) on INA GRM 245172. The disc titled “Luc Ferrari: Matin et Soir” (ADDA 581156) with the orchestral composition Histoire du plaisir et de la desolation (which won the Prix International Serge et Olga Koussevitsky) would be on my desert island list.

Over the last year, there have been a handful of CD releases of Ferrari’s music, some are reissues, and some are new recordings. The most promising new release is on mode (mode 81), the first in a series of discs devoted to Ferrari. Considering mode’s other series of Cage, Feldman and Xenakis, this is one of those labels where it’s worth acquiring one of everything. Chansons pour le corps (1988-94) is based on a bizarre concept: Ferrari takes a tape recorder into a public park and randomly asks women to describe intimate parts of their bodies. The women’s words are transformed into texts by Collette Fellous, and Ferrari adds tape, a voice, and a few instruments. Chansons pour le corps is paired with a work that won the Prix Italia 1987, Et si entiere maintenant… (1986-87) (which also appears on ADDA 581079). The sounds of a boat, an orchestra and a spoken text, create a journey that never happened. Everything was recorded, then treated as musique concrete, so the entire work has a surreal mystical quality. The listener becomes accustomed to the sounds of the ocean or of an orchestra, and then suddenly they are chopped up, forcing the listener along through Ferrari’s narrative.

There are few works that would constitute the essential Ferrari, and mode’s series will hopefully come close. The interested listener is encouraged to pick up the new release on mode and either ADDA recording with Programme Commun, or Histoire du plaisir et de la desolation.
— Grant Covell, La Folia, 6/2000


Luc FERRARI: Madame de Shanghai, Après presque rien,
Visage 2
(mode 228)

Elise Caron Profile
Colette Fellous Profile
Luc Ferrari Profile
Anne Sèe Profile