Peter Stein staged the work for Welsh National Opera in 1992 and won universal praise, as did Pierre Boulez for his conducting. Within austere, wholly appropriate sets, beautifully lit by Jean Kalman, Stein catches the very essence of this singular and elusive piece. Each of the 15 scenes is given its own distinctive décor in which the action is played out on several levels – high for the tower scenes, low for the eerie, subterranean grottoes, for instance. A masterstroke is the subtle evolution from one scene to another in view of the audience, offering a visual counterpoint to the interludes. Stein sees that Debussy's instructions are scrupulously observed. In fact, as a whole, this is an object-lesson in modern staging. Stein and his collaborators reflect the ebb and flow of crude realism and fragile dream-life that permeate the score, which Boulez has identified as lying at its heart. Director and conductor worked closely with each other over a six-week rehearsal period, something unlikely to occur today, so Boulez's interpretation is in complete accord with the staging, his musical direction at once direct and luminous, timbres finely balanced one with the other.
Recorder virtuoso Erik Bosgraaf (b. 1980) was personally granted permission to arrange for recorder Boulez' (1925-2016) Dialogue de l'ombre double, originally for clarinet and electronics. ...The result is a dynamic interplay between Bosgraaf's recorder and the fascinating electronic timbres and colours. The second work on this release is a musical dialogue between Bosgraaf and electronic wizard Jorrit Tamminga (b. 1973), creating unheard-of sounds of the recorder interwoven in electronic sound tapestries.
Swiss pianist Ingrid Karlen makes her ECM debut with Variations, of which the program is as provocative as the title is vague. Beyond variations in the traditional sense, these are, rather, mise-en-abymes of abstractions. Or so they might at first aural glance seem, for within these sometimes troubling clusters of false starts breathes a unity at once organic and contrived. Anton Webern’s Variations for Piano, op. 27 (1935/36) is the primary example, for the only variations they seem to engender stem from that which cannot be notated. These pieces behave as might a solo violin sonata, jumping fluidly and bow-like through their ephemeral 12-tone links. They are the anti-motif, a stretch of childhood unable to be sifted.
In Patrice Chéreau's illuminating, violent Bayreuth production of Das Rheingold, Wotan wears the brocade coat of feudal times while the Rhine seems to be a reservoir with a modern power station - but, as Chéreau states, it "could also be many other things… a menacing construction, a theatrical machine to produce a river, an allegorical shape that today generates energy: perhaps a mythological presence, the mythology of our time… The gods' ascent to Valhalla (is) a defiant flight into the future."
It is almost exactly a quarter of a century since Pierre Boulez recorded his complete Webern survey. This new collection, apart from being useful for anyone who doesn't want to buy three whole CDs of Webern, offers an interesting insight into how Boulez's way with a composer probably more central to him than any other has changed. For a start he gives him a little more time: most of the pieces here are slightly but significantly slower than they were in 1970. This allows lines to be more subtly moulded, phrases to acquire a touch more poise. This is not to say that Boulez has softened and now phrases Webern as though he were Chopin, but grace and even wit (the second movement of the Quartet) are now noticeable alongside his customary precision. The Ensemble InterContemporain have been playing these pieces constantly since they were first founded, and it shows in the absolute assurance of their performances.
Tom Service presents 40 years of great BBC archive featuring the French composer, conductor and musical icon, Pierre Boulez, who died on 5th January 2016 at the age of 90. Opinionated and challenging, Boulez transformed the way that musicians and audiences all over the world think about contemporary music. With orchestras including the BBC Symphony, he rehearses and performs Debussy, Stravinsky and Bartok, as well as a selection of his own extraordinary compositions. Boulez's relationship with the BBC began in the 1960s and blossomed during his years as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra - leaving a vivid legacy in the BBC's TV archive.
Pierre Boulez (b. 1925), French composer, conductor, and music theorist, is regarded as a leading composer of the post-Webern serialist movement who also embraced elements of aleatory and electronics. As a child Boulez demonstrated a formidable aptitude in mathematics, but left for Paris in 1942 to enroll in the Paris Conservatoire. His studies there often ran into difficulties, as he was rapidly developing revolutionary – "Praise be to amnesia" – attitudes towards all things traditional. But two decisive influences during those years helped to shape his musical personality. The first was Messiaen's famous analysis course, the other was René Leibowitz, who introduced him to serial music, where Boulez found "a harmonic and contrapuntal ……..From Allmusic
Even in these days of super-efficient Rites and Petrushkas, Boulez can still find in these scores many subtle and beautiful details that are lost in the rush or the brilliance of some showier readings, and his precision of ear is audible on page after page.
Pierre Boulez's interpretation of The Rite of Spring is perhaps more French than Russian, but it's impressive nonetheless. While it emphasizes structure, clarity, and texture over raw energy and visceral excitement, and always keeps something in reserve, it is tellingly potent in the "Glorification of the Chosen One" and the "Sacrificial Dance." In this account Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra established a new standard for ensemble, virtuosity, and idiomatic execution of the music, and their recording remains one of the great achievements of the stereo era. –Ted Libbey
Le Sacre du Printemps, le ballet le plus fameux de Stravinsky, reçoit une interprétation très riche grâce à Pierre Boulez et l'orchestre de Cleveland. En effet, tout en restant fidèle à l'esprit dans lequel l'oeuvre était interprétée par son compositeur, Boulez lui insuffle une puissance très impressionnante. Ce ballet de Stravinsky est d'une importance capitale dans la formation de Pierre Boulez, lorsqu'il travailla avec Olivier Messaien, et nous sentons donc à la fois la réflexion, la familiarité et finalement l'amour que le chef d'orchestre porte à cette oeuvre essentielle de la musique contemporaine. V.B. "Garba"