Last night's concert was really enjoyable, with Boulez offering comments just before each half. Most interestingly, he mentioned the world premiere of Le Marteau in Baden-Baden, which he said required 50 hours of rehearsal, and the United States premiere in Los Angeles, which required sixty. These musicians from the Lucerne Festival Academy did it in "eight or ten." I do think that musicians today are much more comfortable with scores like these. He was also asked about his tendency to expand his smaller works into larger ones, which Boulez traced directly back to the years when he began conducting Wagner, and his development of motifs over long spans of time.
If Le Marteau continues to be fascinating, but a little impenetrable, sur Incises might be more immediately enjoyable (at least to me). It seems more related to the glittering textures of Répons, albeit with no electronics. The unusual scoring is for three pianos, three harps and three percussionists. (Boulez has programmed this piece with Bartók's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and Stravinsky's Les Noces with four pianos.) It's about 40 minutes long, with the three trios of instruments echoing each other or as Boulez said, "playing ping pong," sometimes in huge waves of sound. Much of the time I could only smile and shake my head, watching these young musicians playing, often bobbing their heads, clearly grooving on it.
For such a formidable musician, Boulez is really quite funny and charming. Since he's "only" 82, I hope we have more appearances by him in store.