Sur Incises (1996/1998) – Pierre Boulez

Duration: 40’

Sur Incises is related to the work Incises (1994/2001) for Piano Solo. Incises is Boulez’s first work for solo piano since his third piano sonata of 1955–57/63. It plays with contrasts of gestures and textures, for instance, repeated pitches or chords in an even tempo interrupted by violent melodic arcs, or sparse chordal interjections without discernible rhythm over long held sonorities.

Sur Incises followed a few years later as a two-movement work based on the material of Incises. This work is for 3 pianos, 3 harps, and 3 percussion parts (1st percussion (vibraphone, steel drums, crotales); 2nd percussion (vibraphone, glockenspiel, timbales); 3rd percussion (marimba, tubular bells, crotales). Here the sounds of the piano are broken into component parts played by the harps and percussion, and stretched across space as well by having the three groups spread apart in the performance space.

1. Moment I

2. Moment II


An Interview with the composer on the piece:…


Annotated by Laurent Warnier