Oxford University Sinfonietta have announced the programme for their next concert; Rameau Zaïs Overture, Poulenc Sinfonietta, Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin and Varèse Octandre. Varèse is perhaps best known for his electronic music, but Octandre, named after a flower with eight stamen, is scored for wind ensemble of eight soloists. Heavily influenced by Stravinsky and the spatial juxtaposition of Cubism, the work is a set of three miniatures composed in 1923, shortly after Hyperprism. Piet Mondrian and the Futurist artist Joseph Stella (painter of Brooklyn Bridge, shown right) had a considerable impact upon Varèse’s work and how he viewed the construction of music, often building layers and blocks of sound to try and reflect the noise and sounds of the technologically and industrially based world around him.
Varèse was greatly revered by Boulez who is conducting the Ensemble Intercontemporain in the video below, performing Octandre.