Thursday, July 26, 2007

Boulez - great bogeyman of 20th century music


Henry Holland has left a new comment on the post "Boulez - Rituel In Memoriam Maderna":

Ah, one my favorite Paths of yours Pliable since I started to read OAOP two (three?) years ago. I love Rituel in Memoriam Maderna, I listened to it on my iPod a few weeks ago. I wish that there was more than one official recording of it or I could find some live versions on my usual file theft sites. I know Boulez is The Great Bogeyman of 20th Century music along with Schoenberg, and while I certainly don't like all of his pieces, there are some that are among my favorite pieces of music.

I went to a performance of Pli selon Pli at the Concertgebouw when I was in Amsterdam recently and despite the excellent performance by the ASKO Ensemble and Barbara Hannigan I wasn't impressed by the piece all that much; I hadn't heard it in a while.

I keep hoping that a performance of the amazing Repons will take place in the US so I can easily afford to travel to hear it but it's obviously very complicated to do in a live situation.

About 15 years ago (?) Mr. Boulez conducted the four Notations that he had then completed the orchestral versions for here in Los Angeles with the Philharmonic and it was one of the most stunning things I've ever heard in a concert hall. The Phil back then could just barely play the pieces (they'd have no problem now that Mr. Salonen has whipped them in to shape) but what stunning music. I've really wanted Mr. Boulez to come back and conduct here, anything will do, but he hasn't been here in at least a decade. I wonder if he and Mr. Salonen had a falling out? :-(

Great picture of the set-up for the Gruppen premiere and what handsome men Boulez and Stockhausen are in the bottom picture. There's apparently going to be a book about the gay aspect of the Darmstadt group appearing soon and while I will buy it instantly, I'm also afraid that the revelations in it will be used to browbeat that group, much like if you read some of the criticism of Britten in the 40's-70's, there's a barely disguised layer of homophobia to it. As if a lot of people needed the gay angle to denigrate the Darmstadt composers, any excuse along the lines of "they killed classical music" will do! :-)


Thanks for that diversion Henry. Now follow this path for the funny side of Darmstadt, and my picture shows more handsome men there, from left to right, Luigi Nono, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
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6 comments:

Marc said...

Both David Robertson and Michael Gielen have recorded Rituel, Henry. Both worth checking out, too, to hear how Robertson's Lyon Orchestra compares to Gielen's Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Robertson's live performances of the piece have a cool incisiveness, too.

Garth Trinkl said...

"I keep hoping that a performance of the amazing Repons will take place in the US so I can easily afford to travel to hear it but it's obviously very complicated to do in a live situation." ...

Henry, where were you in March or April 1986 when Boulez mounted Repons in the Columbia University gymnasium in New York City? And someone correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that there was an additional performance of Repons, here State-side, two or so years ago.

I recall thinking long and hard in 1986, and then intentionally not going up to Columbia to hear Boulez and Repons because I was saving money for a trip to London for the Birtwistle and Zinovieff's Mask of Orpheus premiere that late May. I recall being happy to have caught a BBC broadcast of Repons (with Peter Eotvos?) one night that fortnight while sitting in my room and borrowing my composer friend's new mini-FM radio and earplugs. On my own mini-cassette player, I listened repeatedly that week to Birtwistle's Earth Dances; which the engraver at Universal Editions, in London, dubbed for me in their basement. (This past month I finally purchased the revised 2001 score to Earth Dances.)

Leonard Slatkin led Rituel, in Washington, along with Rihm's Inschrift, and Saariaho's Nymphea Reflection. Slatkin seems/seemed to prefer to conduct a little complex European music, but less complex, often populist American music. Some NSO players who I spoke with very much enjoyed playing this European contemporary music.

Drew80 said...

At the very least, Pierre Boulez conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in subscription concerts in May 2002, at Chandler Pavillion, and in subscription concerts in Novemer 2003, in the new Gehry building.

Henry Holland said...

Thanks for all the corrections, I should have Googled all that stuff before I posted.

Both David Robertson and Michael Gielen have recorded Rituel, Henry.

Ah, thanks! In searching, I also saw this:

CD-2227:\2415-] ERATO ( F ) /
Boulez 01. Rituel -in memoriam Bruno Maderna- orchestra, 02. Messagequisse - 7vc, 03-06. Notations - orchestra
Perf.; Orches de Paris, dir: Daniel Barenboim

I still haven't quite made the transition to buying stuff online, especially from non-US sources, since Tower Records closed down; there was a fantastic classical Tower on the Sunset Strip that had *everything* and I'd buy it there.

Henry, where were you in March or April 1986 when Boulez mounted Repons in the Columbia University gymnasium in New York City?

Likely smoking pot and listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode! My interest in the European avant-garde didn't really take off until the early 90's when I finally got a good job and could afford the expensive import CD's and to buy the scores that made it easier to follow along.

the Birtwistle and Zinovieff's Mask of Orpheus premiere that late May

I was hoping that ENO would revive that wonderful piece to coincide with the world premiere of his new opera The Minotaur at the ROH, but they're doing Punch and Judy instead, which will much easier and less costly to stage.

Hey Drew80, sorry I never replied to that e-mail you sent me after that little dust-up I had with that guy who claimed that the success of Tan Dun's The Last Emperor at the Met proved that audiences craved new opera (they most assuredly don't for the most part); life, you know. Your source for that info? I only ask because I love Boulez' conducting, I can't believe I missed those engagements.

And to continue my litany of errors in that post, the bit about Gay Darmstadt isn't a book, it's an article in a New Music periodical. Facts are your friend, Henry Holland! :-(

Hahaha, thanks Pliable for the new picture! :-)

Drew80 said...

My source for the Boulez appearances in Los Angeles was the website of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The orchestra's website mentioned the May 2002 and November 2003 appearances, but I do not mean to suggest that those were Boulez's only appearances with the orchestra.

Those were the two I came upon.

And, Mr. Holland, on that other matter, I have kept my word since my email message to you. I have never posted on that dolt's website ever again.

Henry Holland said...

D'oh! The Phil's website. [bumpkin voice] What is this Internet you speak of? :-) [/bumpkin voice] Thanks for the heads up.

"dolt" hahaha. I was really amazed how thin-skinned he was, Buddah knows I put enough disclaimers in there. It was nice to see your reply at the time as it's always cool to find someone who likes Reimann's Lear. BTW, the Schott website lists some performances of it in Frankfurt September 2008. Might be worth the trip, if there's enough other stuff going on in Germany to make a trip justifiable.