Monday, March 13, 2006

Anxious anticipation...nervous concern

So, coming at speed unknown from Rhode Island is a copy of a recording of one of the performances of the Mahler 2nd conducted by Pierre Boulez using the same forces as the forthcoming DGG disc. As excited as I am about the DGG disc, I am even more excited about the other disc. I haven't been able to track down a copy of the BBCSO performance, so I have yet to hear Boulez in the Mahler 2. My sources tell me that this is an impressive performance, and I have been generally very enthusiastic about Boulez' Mahler.

I do wonder, though, about his forthcoming 8th. I alluded to this in an earlier post, but I will iterate my concerns. He is a great conductor, the most influential composer of the second half of the 20th century, and a postmodernist atheist. Two out of those three give him some kinship with Mahler himself. The third is troubling, from a Mahlerian standpoint. I am not sure how he will deal with the in-your-face spirituality of the Veni, Creator Spiritus section. That is to say, how can a man who asserts the non-existence of God get on the same wavelength with a composition of great spirituality and mysticism? If he, even at 81, is still Pierre Boulez, he'll do what he did with Parsifal at Bayreuth. He'll play exactly the notes written and nothing more. That is not so good (though I think it worked in the Bayreuth incident). How will he respond to the Faust material, dripping in transfigured love? Probably in much the same way, if I don't miss my guess. That approach works great, except in two scores: the 2nd and the 8th. We're about the see about the 2nd. Boulez' 8th, like the score itself, will just have to be mysyerious for the time being.

I love a good mystery.