Eliane Radigue: smörgåsbord

One of the highlights of this year’s Spitalfields Festival will be the attention it is bringing to the eminent French electro-acoustic composer Eliane Radigue; overlapping with Sound and Music’s Triptych Festival of Radigue’s music, London is to be treated less to an introduction to her work than to a five-star smörgåsbord: Spitalfields features the three-hour Naldjorlak and Triptych includes 8 concerts of her electro-acoustic music, including the monumental  Trilogie de la mort, spread across three evenings, and a concert devoted to Radigue’s early loop and feedback pieces (which I’m particularly intrigued to hear through the context of the American minimalism of the time).

Radigue’s music is, I’ll be honest, little known to me, although I’m not alone. Her Grove entry runs to a meagre 120-odd words, with no associated list of works, and I don’t see her listed in any of my other reference books. Her Wikipedia entry, however, is respectable, perhaps reflecting her status among an underground/alternative cognescenti who can accommodate and value her work more easily than the Anglo-American academy. David Behrman’s 1997 assessment seems pertinent:

Eliane Radigue’s music could be thought of as a desert plant stubbornly growing within the cultural hothouse that is Paris. In the heart of one of the great arts centers of Europe, working in her own small electronic music studio, she has made her intense pieces since the late Sixties, apart from and independently of the curatorial in-groups where concerts and festivals are scheduled… Eliane Radigue’s music explores an expanded universe of which technology is a part. She has discovered things in electronic sound which powerfully affect our psyches.

Here’s a short video profile of Radigue on YouTube:

Part 1 of Trilogie de la mort can be heard here (edited across four videos):

Update: Further Listening has lots of great links to Radigue materials, including interviews, performances and a page of Radigue mp3s at Ubuweb (of course – I should have checked!).

Full details about Triptych and the Radigue events at Spitalfields may be found here.


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