Nuages Noires (Black Clouds) by Edison Denisov

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"Nuages Noires" ("Black Clouds") by Edison Denisov
⧼written by⧽ D. Smirnov-Sadovsky

"Nuages Noires" ("Black Clouds") by Edison Denisov

Vibraphone is absolutely special and very poetical timbre.

Edison Denisov[1]

"Nuages Noires (Black Clouds)" for vibraphone solo (1984) is the first part of the cycle “Three pieces for percussion instruments” that was completed in 1989.

The cycle also includes "Apparitions and Disparitions" ("Emergences-Resurgences") for two percussionists (1986) and "Rayons des etoiles l'espace courbe" ("Rays of Far-Away Stars in the Vaulted Space") for three percussionists (1989). The duration of the whole cycle is about 25 minutes.

It was first played 14 April 1989, Moscow by the Ensemble of Mark Pekarsky. It was published in Leipzig DVFM, 1990 (1st piece), 1992 (2nd piece); Wiesbaden, Breitkopf and Härtel, 1994.

The complete cycle is recorded on CD Pierre Verany PV 790112 - Strasbourg Percussion Ensemble, Georges van Gucht (cond.)

You can listen it here:

"Nuages Noires" ("Black Clouds")

"Apparitions and Disparitions" ("Emergences-Resurgences")

"Rayons des etoiles l'espace courbe" ("Rays of Far-Away Stars in the Vaulted Space")

In his interview to Dmitri Shulgin Edison Desidov said: "The first piece "Black cloud" is very melodious and, in some sense, colourful and quite impressionistic — all the time the colours of vibraphone are like a variety of "cloud of sounds": there are the most light and dark, and even sometimes completely black "sound clouds"."[2]

Yuri Kholopov and Valeria Tsenova wrote on the first piece:

"Nuages Noires (Black Clouds)"

The piece "Black Cloud" — a kind of romantic nocturne, but its content is not a cantilena of a "night song" but ever-changing contours of dark vibrating shapes ("clouds") with unclear borders (Example 36 a).

[The following example includes the opening bars of the 1st and 2nd pieces]

Denisov Ex 36.jpg

The "Impressionistic" mood of the piece is well corresponded with its a quite traditional construction that follows the classical form of the adagio type. A quiet first section gives way to a middle section of more lively character (bars 31–88), where the most delicate trembling tremolo leads to a large climax with sharp chords (bars 47–54) and swift passages in the genre of "rustling" and " lines flowing through " (bars 55–84).

The treatment of twelve-note technique is typical of Denisov. In the beginning he builds the row:


that is dominated with formula EDS [monogram of his name EDiSon DEniSov, where E = e-flat (DS)]. However, the row is quite polysemantic and can be understood as a set of triads: f—b—a (total of 4.2. the intervals in semitones), b-flat—e—e-flat (respectively 5.1.), d-flat—a-flat—g (1.5.) and c—f-sharp—d (2.4.), with a predominance of two groups of type 4.2. and 5.1. The row serves as the source of a number of varied groups-models, but also returns from time to time as a whole. Cadenza (beginning from bar 55) is based on the formula EDS and its derivations. The third section is written in the character of the first, and includes chords and “rusting” passages from the second section. The modified sounds of four-part chorale based even on consonant triads are pierce the "black clouds". The last chord brings a sound of D-major (with a mild discord of the in the melody).[3]

The Notes

  1. Dmitri Shulgin: The Testimony of Edison Denisov. Moscow 1998, p/ 60. — Д. И. Шульгин: Признание Эдисона Денисова. M. 1998. c. 360
  2. ibid.
  3. Yuri Kholopov, Valiria Tsenova: Denisov. Moscow 1993 — Юрий Холопов, Валения Ценова: Эдисон Денисов. М. Композитор, 1993

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