Saturday, January 07, 2006

More on Boulez

If the Boulez/Chéreau Ring is a leitmotif for me, then Pierre Boulez himself is an idee fixe. For whatever reason, his clarity and dryness appeal to me. I suppose that I like austerity in general. However, Alex Ross wrote this piece about the maestro some time ago. I don't recall if it ever made it on to FtNW, but it is now here.

This is an astute reading, and - only now - do I fully understand his program. His Wagner prefigures his Mahler, and that prefigures the rest. This is a great and terrible idea. Intellectually, it's indefensible. Using Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, and the rest as the standard for Mahler, Wagner, and Bruckner is a dangerous idea. It reveals deeper meanings, true; however, to deterritorialize the sign from the idiom is - with all due respect to Messrs. Deleuze and Guattari - a treacherous proposition. The disintegration of tone might be a fact. However, rewriting musical history to show that disintegration is revisionism.

Just because one can draw a family tree between Parsifal and Schoenberg does not mean that one should treat them equally. He's still brilliant, though; just look at his Bruckner 8 and tell me otherwise.


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