Luc Ferrari - Presque rien No 1

In previous Electric Springs we have always placed new work alongside 'classics' from the tape music repertoire, Varese in 1995 and Bruno Maderna in 1996, and this year the classics are two works by the French composer, Luc Ferrari. Ferrari was born in 1929 and has been associated with the 'musique concrete' movement since the 1950s, composing numerous tape works as well as music for acoustic instruments.

Presque rien is a series of three works for tape of which this, the first, was made in 1970. As its subtitle ('day-break by the sea') implies, Presque rien no 1 is a collage of sounds collected on the Adriatic coast of former Yogoslavia. 'Presque rien' translates as 'almost nothing' and a first reaction to the work maybe to question what right these sounds, to which 'almost nothing' seems to have been done, have to be regarded as 'music'. Listen more closely, however, and the subtlety of Ferrari's craft becomes apparent: events are cunningly elided, correspondences are suggested, perspectives disorientatingly altered.

Tom Johnson, in that wonderful collection of his writings, The Voice of New Music, sums up the allure of Ferrari's work:

At first it didn't seem to me as if much was happening compositionally, but gradually r realized I was actually hearing a whole lot of scene and cast changes. lt was just that the composer had blended separate takes so seamlessly that everything flowed together.