Saturday, December 13, 2008

" music is also seductive, even spiritual"

I'm sorry not to have posted more frequently, but I am smack-dab in the middle of finals right now at IUSL-B, which is now the Maurer School of Law. I did, however, want to call your attention to this interview with Pierre Boulez.

The title is, of course, a quote from the interview. I would agree with the former, but not the latter. I am also not entirely sure that I like the idea that seduction is on the way to spirituality, but I don't see the need to get into that right now. No, I am reminded of a interweb message board comment by someone whose judgment on music I trust, the gist of which comment was that Boulez' music was attractive but dangerous (like a poisonous snake), or something like that.

It is, I think, the barely controlled violence of Boulez' best work that makes it so attractive to my mind. While the works have a glittering beauty (I think, of course, of Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna and Mémorial, which led to ...explosante-fixe...), they also seem perpetually on the edge of devolving themselves into pure atonal violence, almost to the point of sheer noise. There's also, in some of his works, a sense of festination -- of explosive speed, though that doesn't have quite the same connotation as "to festinate" -- as though the work is hurrying to get through itself before devolving into violent noise.

Of course, whether the seduction will be successful -- or even accepted -- depends entirely on the listener. That, of course, forces one to ask how seductive the music really is, after all. It works for me, but that doesn't mean it's universally successful.