Author Topic: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)  (Read 123825 times)

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Offline ritter

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1320 on: September 30, 2017, 06:05:09 AM »
This week, hearing Répons, with Matthias Pintscher and Ensemble intercontemporain, staged at the enormous Park Avenue Armory here -- the size of an airplane hangar. (You can hear the piece with Pintscher and the group on YouTube, in very good audio/video.)

The interesting part: They're doing it twice each night, and the audience will change seats for the second performance, for a "new sonic perspective." I have high expectations.

http://armoryonpark.org/programs_events/detail/repons

--Bruce
Splendid! I envy you, and hope your high expectations are surpassed. I've said this before: I saw the piece conducted by the composer here in Madrid (in a sports arena) in 1992, and it was one of the highlights of my concert-going life. We only got to hear it once (it was preceded by Dialogue de l'ombre double played by Alain Damiens), but we did get Boulez conducting Le Marteau sans maître on the following evening in the National Auditorium.  :)

Do report, Bruce, if you feel like it. I'd love to know your impressions.  8)

Quote from: The WSJ
Despite his reputation for mathematical precision and formal rigor, the French master was avowing the primacy of sonic beauty. It shouldn’t have been a great surprise: Much of his original music traffics in such contrasts, reconciling the twin poles of strict organization and spontaneous play, or the impulse to spin logical structures with the visceral pleasure of basking in instrumental color.

No Boulez work demonstrates this philosophical friction more than “Répons” (“Response”), a 1981 composition (later revised) for six pitched-percussion soloists, an ensemble of strings and winds, and live electronics, lasting 45 minutes.
I think these two paragraphs very aptly summarize one of the reasons why many of us (or at least, I  ;)) find PB's music so infintely appealing. When I used the word "sensuous" in a recent discussion in the WAYLTN thread, I meant exactly this.

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Ritter
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1321 on: September 30, 2017, 06:10:30 AM »
In conjunction with that performance, the Wall Street Journal published an article under their Masterpiece section:

See:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/composing-organized-delirium-1506715586

Very nice!
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1322 on: September 30, 2017, 06:12:38 AM »
I think these two paragraphs very aptly summarize one of the reasons why many of us (or at least, I  ;) ) find PB's music so infinitely appealing. When I used the word "sensuous" in a recent discussion in the WAYLTN thread, I meant exactly this.

I could endorse that entirely, with the personal alteration of removal of the adverb infinitely (which is not at all to say that your own finding should be at all otherwise than infinite)  8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1323 on: September 30, 2017, 06:14:11 AM »
This week, hearing Répons, with Matthias Pintscher and Ensemble intercontemporain, staged at the enormous Park Avenue Armory here -- the size of an airplane hangar. (You can hear the piece with Pintscher and the group on YouTube, in very good audio/video.)

The interesting part: They're doing it twice each night, and the audience will change seats for the second performance, for a "new sonic perspective." I have high expectations.

http://armoryonpark.org/programs_events/detail/repons

--Bruce

Très cool, indeed.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline ritter

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1324 on: September 30, 2017, 06:28:33 AM »
I could endorse that entirely, with the personal alteration of removal of the adverb infinitely (which is not at all to say that your own finding should be at all otherwise than infinite)  8)
Good day, Karl!

Yep, with Boulez to infinity and beyond!  ;D You see, I was first exposed to his music in 1975 (excerpts of Le Marteau... on, of all places, the inflight entertainment system of an Air France flight from Paris to Caracas) and was blown away...my admiration has not stopped to grow since then. So yes, so far its allure is "infinite" to me.  ;)

Re Répons (which I am listening to as I write): the entrance of the soloists (boosted by the electronics) after the introduction is simply mesmerzeing (these "arpeggiated arpeggios"). And in section 6, the busy filigress of the ensemble and soloists (with such a shimmering sound) are unexpectedly underpinned by isolated, few and far between, notes of the tuba. The effect is nothing short of miraculous IMHO.  :)
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Offline ritter

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1325 on: October 09, 2017, 07:18:01 AM »
Cross-posted from the WAYLTN thread:

Listened to the world première recording of Pierre Boulez's Fragment d'une ébauche for piano, from this CD that landed today:



It turns out this 30" miniature was a present by Boulez to a colleague at the Collège de France, the chemist Jean-Marie Lehn, on the occasion of his being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1987 [Lehn, not Boulez  ;)]. It was first performed in public in 2013, with the composer and the dedicatee in attendance, but Boulez decided not to include it in his "official" catalogue of works. His heirs have permitted its posthumous release on CD. It's supposed to be sketch for a work for piano and ensemble that never materialized  :(.

Not life-changing, but this very busy piece is interesting and enjoyable, with the persistent (and unusual) use of syncopated rhythms being its most salient feature. Of course, it's all over in a sigh. Dimitri Vassilakis is an expert on Boulez, and his performance seems to be what the piece needs (there's nothing to compare it to, of course).

Proceeded then to listen to Dérive 1 which opens the CD, and found Pascal Gallois's performance--leading the hitherto unknown to me Prague Modern ensemble--very convincing, as it appears to me like a suaver approach to this short work (which I must confess was never among my favourites by its composer).
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 10:40:58 AM by ritter »
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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1326 on: October 09, 2017, 09:33:59 AM »
Re; the Schoenberg/Boulez CD: From the samples, it is a sparklingly clear recording. I must get this.

Offline ritter

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1327 on: October 09, 2017, 12:08:28 PM »
Re; the Schoenberg/Boulez CD: From the samples, it is a sparklingly clear recording. I must get this.
Oh yes. Contrary to what we were led to expect, the sound is very good, pemitting an unusual level of detail in Dérive 1 (and that's perhaps what made me like the piece better ths time around). Still have to listen to Verklärte Nacht and the PB Trosième sonate, though.
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Offline jessop

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1328 on: October 09, 2017, 02:58:03 PM »
Cross-posted from the WAYLTN thread:
Very interesting! Probably worth a listen.....I do like these little musical gifts that Boulez wrote (Solti's 80th birthday fanfare being another one I think is lovely to listen to)

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1329 on: October 09, 2017, 07:11:23 PM »
Boulez: Répons, Park Avenue Armory, NY, Oct. 7, 2017

The improbably situated Armory on Park Avenue at 66th Street in NY with its immense Drill Hall has of late been the home for cultural events that sound exceptional in the planning but have often fallen short in the execution.

To take a few examples: a performance of Bernd Alois Zimmermann's opera “Die Soldaten” in 2008, where audience members were seated right and left of the stage on risers that moved forward and back during the performance, was marred by impossible sight lines unless one’s seat was close to the stage. I myself couldn’t see a thing. The Royal Shakespeare Company, visiting for five often disappointingly directed performances in summer 2011, constructed a special stage of its own within the Armory but both elevators and air conditioning malfunctioned often, and acoustics from the upper rows made it nearly impossible to hear the actors.

In 2014 Kenneth Branagh brought an expensive Macbeth to the stage; audience members were separated into “clans” and were made to do “clan shouts” before being escorted to high benches without backs for two intermissionless hours for those not willing for fork over $200 for the best seats. And then in 2012 came the NY premiere of Stockhausen’s Gruppen performed by the NY Philharmonic, coupled with Boulez’s Rituel, Ives’s Unanswered Question, and (improbably) the Act One Finale of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which was a cacophony of ragged ensemble with oddly costumed individuals roaming the vast Drill Hall and trying unsuccessfully to find a downbeat. Louis Andriessen’s “De Materie” last year was more successfully staged, but the main interest was in watching the herd of 100 live sheep rather than anything musical.

And so it was with some apprehension that I entered the Hall for last weekend’s performance of Boulez’s Répons. Actually two performances back to back, for conductor Matthias Pintscher’s inspired conceit was to play the 45-minute piece twice and reseat the audience after intermission. And this makes sense when you realize that Répons is conceived spatially: in this iteration, a large chamber orchestra, here the Ensemble InterContemporain, is surrounded on all four sides by the audience. Then six soloists playing pitched percussion (2 pianos, harp, cimbalon, etc.) are situated behind the audience and spaced around the perimeter of the hall. There’s also a synthesizer that manipulates the soloists’ sounds and sends them back into the hall via about a dozen loudspeakers situated above the performers and audience.

With this arrangement, for once the nonsensically huge and reverberant Drill Hall made perfect auditory and visual sense. I was seated behind the conductor for performance 1, and reseated behind the brass for performance 2. This meant I was also closer to different soloists for each performance, and so the music sounded both the same and different. (For example, in the central section the loud tuba pedal notes, barely audible in performance 1, predominated in performance 2.) Those seated at the sides of the orchestral ensemble probably had a different auditory experience still.

Not only under Pintscher’s direction was the performance fluid and (as my friend Pradyut Shah put it) more romantic than under Boulez himself in his recording, but the lighting plot was similarly inspired. As one enters the hall the whole area is shrouded in fog; then when the chamber orchestra starts, a couple of dozen spotlights stream vertically from the ceiling with the soloists in darkness. About 5-6 minutes in, perhaps the most celebrated moment in the piece occurs when the six soloists enter, and here the lighting plot expanded to multiple diagonals to illuminate these performers. Stunning, and you could see audience members smiling in delight. Last, when the orchestra falls silent at the coda and only the soloists play, all overhead lights fade to dark with only enough illumination for the soloists to read, and the dozen loudspeakers suspended from the ceiling are now outlined.

A totally successful experience, in other words, with comfortable chairs and since everyone was seated at orchestra level, no need to climb the many steep stairs to the Drill Hall’s upper balcony. Pintscher made a more compelling case for the work than even Boulez did when I heard him conduct it in Carnegie Hall in 2003. Even the program booklet at the Armory, 16" high by 11" across and printed white on black, showed unusual care in graphic design. A similar performance arrangement could be tried profitably with Stockhausen’s Gruppen, or with the one major work by Boulez that hasn’t been performed in NY for decades, the wonderful Pli selon Pli.

Another review, showing a bit of the lighting plot:
http://www.vulture.com/2017/10/music-review-a-double-dose-of-pierre-boulezs-rpons.html
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1330 on: October 09, 2017, 09:04:35 PM »
Awesome, Sforzando! I would very much have loved to have seen that concert. I wonder if something by Henry Brant might work well there, too? He was, as you probably already know, quite interested in spatial music.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1331 on: October 10, 2017, 12:05:53 AM »
Thanks so much for that excellent account of what clearly was a memorable concert, (poco) Sforzando! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And thanks as well for the link you provided.

Funny you point out the tuba's pedal notes in in section 6. When I last listened (as reported here) to Répons on CD (which obviously is nothing close to experiencing the piece live) I was struck by the wonderful effect those notes provide, as they manage (few and far between as they are) to knit this otherwise very busy section (full of filigrees by both ensemble and soloists) together.

Regards,

« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 12:36:48 AM by ritter »
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1332 on: October 10, 2017, 05:07:48 PM »
Very good comments above from (poco) Sforzando on what was, yes, a memorable evening. (I went on the first night.)  In a perfect world, there would be a DVD of this performance, especially given the dramatic lighting effects, but alas, that's just wishful thinking.

This link has been posted before, but is worth posting again. You can hear (and watch) Pintscher and the EIC do the piece earlier this year on YouTube, from the Philharmonie de Paris. No, not in surround sound, but still, this gives you an excellent idea of the chemistry between the conductor and the ensemble. It was a joy to hear it done by people who obviously know the piece so well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQE5TYnD58k

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Offline Brewski

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1333 on: October 14, 2017, 08:47:58 AM »
Here's my review of the Boulez on MusicalAmerica.com -- free, without the paywall, through 2pm on Sunday.

http://www.musicalamerica.com/news/newsstory.cfm?archived=0&storyID=39119&categoryID=4

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Offline Spineur

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1334 on: October 14, 2017, 08:59:52 AM »
There is a book of Boulez interviews that came out in the sping.  There is a good review on resmusica.  I have not read it.



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Offline ritter

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1335 on: October 14, 2017, 10:16:07 AM »
There is a book of Boulez interviews that came out in the sping.  There is a good review on resmusica.  I have not read it.



I have no idea if it is going to be translated.
I ordered it from the publishers in March (and their service was excellent--but the wider distribution appears haphazard, and e.g. amazon.fr always says "pas de stock"). It's a collection of "occasional" interviews held over 30 years (one f them I remember reading in the Spanish music magazine Scherzo), and is probably best not read in one go.  I've only leafed through it, but it does seem to provide a good and approachable picture of Boulez's views in the later part of his life.

This has also just appeared:


This line from the publisher's blurb leads me to think that it's much tougher nut to crack (sorry, I wouldn't dare translate it, as I really do not understand half of it  ;D): "De l’écriture à l’écoute, de l’axiomatique à la prolifération, de l’exercice de la structure à la pratique de la coupure, du degré zéro de l’écriture à l’ambiguïté des espaces lisses et des espaces striés".  ??? And names such as Barthes, Deleuze, Foucault, etc. are also mentioned... ::)

Here's my review of the Boulez on MusicalAmerica.com -- free, without the paywall, through 2pm on Sunday.

http://www.musicalamerica.com/news/newsstory.cfm?archived=0&storyID=39119&categoryID=4

--Bruce
Great review, Brewski! Many thanks  :)
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 10:27:27 AM by ritter »
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1336 on: October 14, 2017, 03:56:58 PM »
There is a book of Boulez interviews that came out in the sping.  There is a good review on resmusica.  I have not read it.



I have no idea if it is going to be translated.

My friend David Gable is working on a translation of some Boulez interviews. It may be this one. Haven't heard in some time about his progress, either with the translation or the publication.
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1337 on: October 14, 2017, 04:08:57 PM »
Here's my review of the Boulez on MusicalAmerica.com -- free, without the paywall, through 2pm on Sunday.

http://www.musicalamerica.com/news/newsstory.cfm?archived=0&storyID=39119&categoryID=4

--Bruce

Excellent review, Bruce...although it makes me realize my CD of Repóns is a poor substitute for a live performance  :(

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1338 on: October 14, 2017, 04:22:59 PM »
Excellent review, Bruce...although it makes me realize my CD of Repóns is a poor substitute for a live performance  :(

Sarge

But, you probably realized that earlier :)
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Peter Power Pop

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Re: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
« Reply #1339 on: October 14, 2017, 05:01:52 PM »
Very interesting! Probably worth a listen.....I do like these little musical gifts that Boulez wrote (Solti's 80th birthday fanfare being another one I think is lovely to listen to)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/9SwwcAkjSbk" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/9SwwcAkjSbk</a>

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