Luc Ferrari | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Luc Ferrari 

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To say that Luc Ferrari is a major electroacoustic composer isn't saying nearly enough. True, Ferrari was one of the key figures associated with the studios of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, the central French outpost of post-musique concrete electroacoustic music, founded by Pierre Schaeffer in the late 50s. And like his countrymen Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegiani, Christian Zanesi, and Francois Bayle, he's thoroughly explored the relationship between recorded sound and acoustic music. But Ferrari is an independent spirit, and since the 60s, with important pieces like Heterozygote and his "Presque rien" series, he's broken some of the central tenets of electroacoustic music, including Schaeffer's "acousmatic" rule, which says a listener shouldn't be able to identify the source of a sound. He's made uproariously funny pieces, like Strathoven, a 1985 tape composition that bluntly juxtaposes Stravinsky and Beethoven. His 1981 radiophonic work Histoire du plaisir et de la desolation is a fully notated composition, and as a former student of Arthur Honegger and Olivier Messiaen, Ferrari has also composed a fair amount of straight-up acoustic instrumental music. He's even been known to improvise (a soon-to-be-released CD reportedly documents a free exchange between Ferrari on piano, guitarist Noel Akchote, and a classical percussionist), which is more or less forbidden in the postproduction-oriented world of tape music. This first large-scale presentation of Ferrari's music in Chicago will focus on divergent aspects of his oeuvre: The first evening will present electroacoustic works, including a version of his Tautologos 3, written in '69 and updated as recently as last year. The glorious original recording of it was recently reissued on Blue Chopsticks--the label run by David Grubbs, who'll be performing the text-based score as part of a seven-piece ensemble that features a very rare appearance by Ferrari himself on piano. On the same bill, Ferrari and French-Canadian Martin Tetreault will jointly DJ the recent piece Les archives des sauvees des eaux. The second night's program focuses on Ferrari's chamber music, with two pieces from the 80s and 90s, and features members of Ensemble Noamnesia. Saturday, October 6, 8 PM, and Sunday, October 7, 7 PM, theater, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; 312-397-4010.

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