Monday, July 09, 2007

Boulez-en-Provence

Michael Lodico of Ionarts reviews Boulez' starkly modernist program from the Aix-en-Provence festival (7 July 2007). As often as Boulez is in Chicago doing Bartók, in fact he's leading Uchida in the 3rd piano concerto in February, I've never caught one of his shows.* He did really splendid Bartók piano concertos 1 and 3 with Daniel Barenboim and then a complete cycle with three different pianists (Zimerman, Andsnes, and Grimaud).

Still, having Bartók and the principals of the Second Viennese School in one place under Boulez would be an interesting experience. As influenced as Boulez obviously was by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, I think that it would be difficult to put Boulez in context without Bartók. The rhythmic side of the older composer, coupled with the barely restrained rage - metaphorically speaking (yes, I'm falling victim to the pathetic fallacy) - of his music show through in Boulez. The violence of the ending of Bartók's first piano concerto would be at home in Boulez' oeuvre. Throw into that his Webern, Berg, and Schoenberg (in descending order of influence), and you've got the primordial musical soup whence Boulez sprang. More or less, I'm guilty of oversimplifying - a little bit. Of course, his unyielding ideological positions and ability to find the least-palatable (to his opponents, never really his supporters) way to put those positions made him something more than even Schoenberg was. Schoenberg made atonality and serialism seem attractive and logical. Boulez made it necessary if you wanted to be "avant-garde."

In any event, it must have been one nice concert.

And, yes, I'm consciously trying to "cut" the off-topic content of the last few posts. While culture as a whole generally concerns this 'blog, I would rather stick to musical culture. I just don't have the stomach for the rest of it anymore.

*I might (i.e., if at all possible) go to the Bartók concert, as I am a loud(ish) fan of Boulez and a quiet Uchida fan.

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