Myriam Marbe ‘Serenata/Concerto/Time Found Again’

01 Concerto for Harpsichord and 8 instrumentalists (15:24)
02 Serenata (10:31)
03 Time Found Again (19:44)

Total time 45:30
LP released on Electrecord, Bucarest. Date unknown (ca. 1982)

Myriam Marbe (1931–1997) was born in Bucarest where she studied music and later taught composition at the Porumbescu Conservatory from 1954 to 1988. As she always refused to join the Comunist Party, she was denied higher responsibilities, though she was one of the foremost Romanian composers of her time. She was part of a said ‘Golden Generation’ of composers, from a country who brought us Brancusi, Tristan Tzara, Paul Celan and later Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram. There is no way one could consider 20th century avantgarde without mentioning Romania. Eventually, Marbe was allowed to attend Darmstadt summer classes between 1968 and 1972. Her music blends European contemporary music with classic influences and romanian traditional elements. She also experimented with aleatory music and prime numbers as compositional rules. Her style on this LP can be compared to that of Takemitsu: a deep Debussy influence in tonalities and composition technique ; whole passages sounding like Takemitsu’s ‘The Woman In The Dunes’ soundtrack ; delicate timbres (enhanced by warm analogue recording engineering). For instance, Concerto for Harpsichord (from 1978) starts like Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un Faune, a pastoral flute and strings duet. When the harpsichord enters, the scene changes altogether and the orchestration becomes slavic and film music as well. The harpsichord is recorded from a distance, hence sounding warm and melodic, more so than harpsichords in Ohana or Ligeti’s Continuum. The Concerto ends so peacefully you don’t even notice it. Serenata (from 1974), subtitled ‘Eine Kleine Sonnenmusik’ (Little Sunny Music), is an homage to Mozart in a nocturnal mood (the serenata is a night song) with bird singing aplenty though I could not identify the instruments used to imitate birds. Includes a solo glockensp0iel section. The Serenata’s finale section is a ‘Magic Flute’ quotation played on celesta – very cute, you will recognize it. Time Found Again [Timpul regasit] was composed 1982. It is basically a cello concerto played on warm sounding viola da gamba, with block flutes solo parts. Don’t miss this one if you have any interest in Takemitsu, Debussy and generaly speaking lovely european contemporary music.


8 Responses to “Myriam Marbe ‘Serenata/Concerto/Time Found Again’”

  1. 1 Adam October 20, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Praise you! Whenever I find the word “harpsichord” popping up in a contemporary context I grab the lp blindly. Never been wrong yet. I simply love this instrument.

  2. 2 continuo October 20, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Well, you might be right in your inclination. I’ve also heard good things from Maurice Ohana or Ligeti that included the harpsichord. I reckon to be more theremin-inclined, though. Thanks for commenting. Appreciated.

  3. 3 lanternativa November 1, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Thank you so much for this treasure!
    Respect from Estonia!

  4. 4 continuo November 1, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Yep, this is wonderful music. Thanks for droppig by.

  5. 5 Lanternativa March 30, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Sir, I want to ask you if you have this artist:

    Violeta Dinescu.

    She was featured on Insane Music For Insane People Vol. 8 & 9. [label: Insane Music. Year: 1984].

    If you have these 2 tapes will be greate. Or a link.

    Thank you very much!

    Respect from Estonia :)

  6. 6 continuo March 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Unfortunately, I don’t have anything by Violeta Dinescu, either on tape or disc. Thanks for your interest.

  7. 7 muffinass February 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    absolutely love your blog !

    thank you for the Romanian additions – will you be uploading more? it’s been a delight to educate myself with experimental music that came out of my country.

    as for the Insane Music for Insane People (vols. 8 & 9), i only found vol.9:


  8. 8 continuo February 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Yes, I have more Romanian records and plan to upload some in the following months. Thanks for the Insane cassette. If Lanternativa above is not interested, I’ll sure give it a listen myself.

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