The title Territoires de l'Oubli translates imperfectly to English, probably due to the use of the French verb oublier (to forget) as a noun.
Perhaps closest is "places of forgetting," which has the benefit of literality if not polish (the far more exciting "lands of oblivion" is often
used instead). It is an odd titular invocation, on the surface suggesting a musical journey to places outside of memory.

Composed in 1977, Territoires de l'Oubli is often classified as a "spectral" work, owing to its exploration of the harmonic spectrum,
here achieved through exploitation of the resonant possibilities of the piano in their most basic form: the damper pedal, depressed at the outset
of the half-hour piece, is neither released nor cleared until the end. “The work is written for the resonances,” writes the composer,
“and not for the attacks,” which he dismisses as an “inevitable secondary phenomenon, as ‘scars’ of the continuum.”

It is in this context that the title’s repudiation of memory seems so strange. With sonic decay uninterrupted by actions of the damper
pedal, the signature imprint of each note exists indefinitely as it decays uninhibited. Is this not a form of memory? Then the historical context:
in his prefatory notes, the composer laments that “nowadays the piano is usually classified among the percussion instruments, probably
because contemporary composers have strongly desired to destroy the powerful romantic and impressionistic image of the instrument.”
Implied is an appeal to the past: the idiomatic construction of piano as resonating body is not a new one at all, but an older one, hearkening
perhaps to the instrument’s golden age. Is this not too an appeal to memory?

Yet it may be fair to say that the piece is well named. Conditional to the dampers’ absence is the absolute necessity of incremental
change: there are no dramatic “events,” as traditionally conceived, only a gradually evolving panorama of resonance. What is left for us to
remember? Even the most elementary “events,” the initial attacks of notes, are of secondary importance.

These difficulties of memory exist no less for the performer, who must navigate an array of novel notational representations (and in places
“forget” traditional modes of learning). Overlapping temporal mechanisms create surprising results, sometimes multiplying their effects or
working one against the other. At times it appears as though the composer is prescribing a practice routine rather than a specific result. Though
the caveat “la notation ne peut rendre compte du fait…” [even though the notation cannot show this…] appears only once in the score, it could
well apply to much of the work.

As for the effect on the listener, that remains, as always, the province of the individual. For my part, there is something incredibly meditative
and solitary about the experience, a kind of lonely sojourn, out of time and memory, through lands unknown.