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October 197019'Orchestral


La peau du silence is a work that exists in three versions: the first, composed in 1960-1962 for an orchestra of 30 musicians, is in 4 main movements and 3 interludes. The second, in 1966, was conceived for an orchestra of 110 musicians and comprises 5 movements. The third is an adaptation of the second for a ‘normal’ orchestra of 82 musicians.
The five movements of these last two versions are linked: successively Plages, Manipulations, Poème, Migrations and Montage. Two personal techniques are mainly used. The first, used in the odd-numbered movements, is an exploitation of sound models chosen either from nature (sea noises, nocturnal animal songs) or from human language. Thus the central movement, Poème, is an instrumental transcription of a Greek text by Georges Séféris, La citerne, a verse of which provided the title of the work. The rhymes, alliterations, accents and breathing suggested different musical constructions that have a direct relationship with the phonetics of the poem, and an indirect one with its meaning.
The second technique is an extension to the orchestra of the sonorities, processes and concepts of electroacoustic music. Movements 2 and 4, Manipulations and Montage, bear witness to the important role that musique concrète played in the renewal of instrumental writing in the 1960s. In the second movement, the orchestra performs a series of manipulations on a single sound object, some of which (dynamic compression, filtering, etc.) are metaphorically analogous to those made possible by electronic equipment, while the others correspond to no known name or machine at the moment.


4 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 1 b-cl, 3 bsn, 4 horn, 4 tpt, 3 tbn, 1 tba, 2 hp, 2 pianos, 4 perc, 14 v1, 12 v2, 10 vla, 8 vc, 6 db.

First performance

1.12.1971 Strasbourg dir. Roger Albin



Commissioned by

Dedicated to

Olivier Messiaen


François-Bernard Mâche / Max Bruch

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