David Ayers

Pierre Boulez

46 posts in this topic

I've recently revisited Boulez in concert and on disk, and my liking for his work is growing. Am I alone in this interest? I'd like to share a few remarks about his works in this thread - but only if there is anyone sufficiently enthusiastic to join in. What I like about Boulez' work is its generosity, the way it has sought to fill the spaces available to the ear with amazing harmonies and textures. Is anyone else here familiar with his work?

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I must admit that I'm more familiar with Boulez as a conductor - with a strong feeling for the structure of a composition - than as a composer. Which of his works do you prefer, his earlier period or later compositions? I'm not a fan of electronic stuff.

Edited by J.A.W.

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I really do like most of his works!

OK. I really like all of the piano works that are still ‘current’ – the Notations (1945), the Piano Sonatas - the pithy 1 (1946) the hammerklavier-like 2 (1948) and the quite different 3 (1955-7 & 1963), as well as Structures II for two pianos (1961).

I love the fairly early (but later revised) work for soprano, mezzo, chorus and orchestra, Le visage nuptial (1946; 1951; 1988-89) and I guess also its sidekick Le soleil des eaux (1948-1965).

I guess I am for whatever reason not as familiar with Le marteau sans maître as I am with Pli selon pli (1957–62; 1983; 1989) which is the centre of gravity, for me, I suppose. Add to that Rituel - in memoriam Bruno Maderna (1974) though I guess I find a little less in it.

Of the later acoustic works I love the amazing Sur incises for three pianos, three harps and three percussionists (1996–1998) and also get a lot out of Dérive 2 for eleven instruments (1988; 2002; 2006).

Right up there for me are the orchestral Notations of which I believe there are still five...

I do really love the works for electronics and acoustic instruments, top of the list being ...explosante-fixe... for solo MIDI flute, two shadow flutes, chamber orchestra, and electronics (1991–93) and not far behind is Répons for two pianos, harp, vibraphone, xylophone, cimbalom, ensemble and live electronics (1980; 1982; 1984), as well as the, in effect, violin sonata Anthèmes 2 for violin and live electronics (1997) which I *believe* forms the basis for the violin concerto which was handed to Anne Sophie Mutter a few months ago.

I don’t exclude the major works I haven’t mentioned but I know them less well.

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I love what I've heard, but haven't been listening lately. And I have a pile of CDs by him.

It's a shame he doesn't devote more time to his own work these days.

I tried to copy all the relevant posts from the listening to... thread, but I'm too lazy to work out why I can't have it all in one post. Too much cultural baggage for me.

I'll have to listen to everything I have again soon.

What I like about Boulez' work is its generosity, the way it has sought to fill the spaces available to the ear with amazing harmonies and textures. Is anyone else here familiar with his work?

That's a perfect way to describe it.

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Count me among those who appreciate and enjoy his work, but I don't feel I know them quite well enough to offer evaluations with much confidence. I need to go another round or two with them. But I have listened to most of what you have listed, and I think your assessments are pretty good.

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tumblr_n7e044UsjH1t06hqzo1_1280_zpsa35f5

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1661190_10202851431419913_82502121383489

hammer with master.

Edited by 7/4

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Nice. Maybe he's on his way to the opera.

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I was just in the midst of thinning these out of the collection.

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I was just in the midst of thinning these out of the collection.

:)

Dan Morgenstern (then my boss at Down Beat) and I had lunch with Boulez in Chicago in 1969. This was set up by a Columbia P.R. man (Boulez was in town to conduct the CSO) who thought we'd like to get Boulez's thoughts on jazz (don't recall what they were, except that they were few and dismissive). What I do recall is that he had a salad and carefully removed each leaf of the greens and salted and peppered them on both sides before returning them to the bowl. Retrograde inversion.

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I was just in the midst of thinning these out of the collection.

:)

Dan Morgenstern (then my boss at Down Beat) and I had lunch with Boulez in Chicago in 1969. This was set up by a Columbia P.R. man (Boulez was in town to conduct the CSO) who thought we'd like to get Boulez's thoughts on jazz (don't recall what they were, except that they were few and dismissive). What I do recall is that he had a salad and carefully removed each leaf of the greens and salted and peppered them on both sides before returning them to the bowl. Retrograde inversion.

um....you don't do that?

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I enjoy his conducting. His interpretations of Schoenberg and Webern are outstanding. Even, surprisingly, Bruckner's 8 on Deutche Grammophon. Having said that, the only way I'll get this set is when the prices fall, which they seem to do on these large box sets.

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I thought briefly about it, but I am going to have to clear the shelves soon, and I just know this isn't going to get any play. I have a 5 CD Original Albums box of Boulez conducting and it basically is just gathering dust. Of course, you could say that about a lot of my collection. :unsure:

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I am a fan of a certain period of his compositions. My primary interest is in his electrico-acoustic works. Clearly he made some fantatsic pieces in this sub-genre.

I'd love to have that big box though - the music would never end!

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So which Boulez box should one go for, if any at all? Sony/Columbia, DG, Erato or Accord?

DG box content: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4794261

Sony box content: http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Sony/88843013332

Erato box content: http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Erato/2564619048

Can't find the Accord box content listed in one place. These are Le Domain Musicale 1956-67 recordings.

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Maybe a very personal choice but I say Accord. These early recordings introduced me to lots of new music and nostalgia might be in control. I later cooled to Boulez and believe that is his fault, but..........................

FWIW, I have the earlier 2 box set.

Edited by Chuck Nessa

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It is useless to ask me because I have followed Boulez as a conductor in London for more than 25 years and have picked up all the corresponding DG recordings. I have also heard very many of the others. I find the SQ usually unacceptable in the Erato and Sony. That said, there is a much more complete representation of Schoenberg on Sony.

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PS answers are based on catalog, not on actual box contents.

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Contents of the Accord box:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/Dec06/Boulez_Domaine_4769209_4768862.htm

Chuck -- either it is Boulez's fault (I assume you mean both as composer and conductor), or there are two of us who have cooled to him for good reasons, though I find some of his later-day recordings of Mahler interesting. Can't think, though, of a single Boulez remake of any of the core modern repertoire that he didn't do better the first or second time around.

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