Boulez: Structures

This piece for two pianos composed by Pierre Boulez in 1952 is an example of total serialism, which employs a series for aspects of the music such as duration and dynamics as well as pitch.  The series itself is not evident just from listening to the piece (not that I expected it to be).  It consists of lots of short, fast passages interspersed with rests and entering at different dynamic levels.  It doesn’t sound quite random – the chords seem to have been chosen for particularly colourful sounds (all dissonant), but there is no obvious rhythmic pattern.  It ends with a single note played loudly and held, allowing the string to vibrate for as long as it can.  The sudden dynamic changes and heavily attacked chords give the piece an aggressive sound, and I could find little cohesion in it other than transient moments.  Overall I found it unpleasant to listen to.

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