“Gerard Grisey's Acoustic Spaces” is an evening devoted to two early works of the late French composer, who died at only 52 in 1998, but who left an indelible mark on new music. Known as one of the founders of spectralism, or “musique spectrale,” best described as the exploration of the spectrum of tone colors between harmonic overtones and noise, Grisey's fascinating works came out of an obsession with sound–what it was, how it could be used, and, especially, how it can shape time. When, in an interview, he was once asked to define the system of spectralism, Grisey grew slightly irritated. “Spectralism is not a system,” he cooly replied. “It is an attitude. It considers sounds not as dead objects that you can easily and arbitrarily permutate in all directions, as as being like living objects with a birth, lifetime and death.” Which is why his compositions do pulsate with a life that transcends time, place and categorization. The percussion ensemble Red Fish, Blue Fish, the internationally acclaimed San Diego-based laboratory for the devlopment of new percussion techniques and sounds and music, performs Grisey's Tempus ex Machina, a complex work whose gorgeous organic structure culminates in soaring climaxes; the Argento Chamber Ensemble performs Part I of Les Espaces Acoustiques, regarded by many as one of the most important compositions in European music since 1970.

Mon., Feb. 16, 8 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly