Pierre Boulez RIP

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Oh no!

Probably my favourite conductor and in the top five post-war composers.

On a Raqqa tip (ShariVari), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:15 (six years ago) link

Yes, big news imo, RIP PB :(

Anyway, it's not a three, it's a yogh. (Tom D.), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:18 (six years ago) link

There was a lot of Boulez performed at the Proms last year, including in otherwise populist programmes, and I remember thinking how great it was that this music was there and being enjoyed and accepted in the process. RIP you brilliant cranky bastard.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:31 (six years ago) link

Oh shit. Major way into listening to classical music for me in as much as when I didn't really know what I was doing, I just used to buy any record I saw with his name on it after reading about him as some hardcore cantankerous modernist. Ended up with all those CBS LPs of Stravinsky and Bartok and Schoenberg and Debussy and Berlioz and a whole lot more and I don't think there was a single one I didn't like.

seb mooczag (NickB), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:36 (six years ago) link

:-(

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:43 (six years ago) link

Au revoir les IRCAM

Chicamaw (Ward Fowler), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:45 (six years ago) link

The First Three (yes the Third as well, never forget) Sonatas + Marteau are all time. The recording of the attempt to complete Berg's Lulu is a true milestone amongst all the recordings of the 2nd Viennese school.

It'll be harder to make an argument for what IRCAM did or didn't do - much great electronic music might've been developed there but after a while I lost track - it was hard not to find it dull. But these are all some v old opinions I haven't bothered to re-think. xp

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 12:51 (six years ago) link

RIP biggest of dogs, favourite interpreter of Mahler

Noodle Vague, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:02 (six years ago) link

In the last few years I've played the hell out of the Liszt Piano Concertos recording he did with Barenboim/Berlin Orchestra. Without knowing much about him I just respect that his name is probably on 10% of my classical collection and probably some of the best stuff, so RIP top Maestro

calzino, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:13 (six years ago) link

His Ravel is unsurpassed as well, i think.

You can get everything he recorded for Colombia and Erato and all the DG 20th century stuff for about £200 across 3 box sets and 120+ discs, which is as sound an investment in physical media as it gets.

On a Raqqa tip (ShariVari), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:17 (six years ago) link

oh man. rest easy big man, people will be listening to what you did for as long as people listen to music.

tremendous crime wave and killing wave (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:45 (six years ago) link

http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/imgs/s300x300/4806828.jpg
Sad sad news. This box was released not too long ago. Curiously, there are a number of his works he didn´t want to include here (such as compositions for tape).

EvR, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:47 (six years ago) link

Womble > Zappa

Anyway, it's not a three, it's a yogh. (Tom D.), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:49 (six years ago) link

Right now telling some angelic pearly gates harpist that they are of NO USE.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 13:56 (six years ago) link

Shitttt this is not what I want to wake up to

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 14:01 (six years ago) link

This is an epoch marking moment pretty much

He means a lot of things to a lot of people but for me it's foremost his conductorial aesthetic - clarity sharpened to a level near hallucination, shocking gorgeousness, colors out of space

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 14:08 (six years ago) link

RIP

However, I have never been a fan of his music or conducting, particularly of some of my favorite works by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky. Maybe it's the sharpened clarity, but I always found his interpretations anemic, almost as if he was trying to prove a point of some kind, removing the essence of those pieces to expose...something/nothing?

Dominique, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 14:18 (six years ago) link

I have "Le Marteau..." in my iPod (part of that Masterworks of the 20th Century budget 10CD box I bought last month); guess I'll listen to that on the way home tonight.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 14:33 (six years ago) link

Aw fuck. One of the greats for me. RIP.

(I got that set for Christmas!)

EveningStar (Sund4r), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 14:53 (six years ago) link

Le Marteau is so beautiful

I will put together a playlist of favorite Boulez recordings sometime today

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 15:20 (six years ago) link

Heh, it's nice to be on a board with other people who have favourite Boulez recordings.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 15:30 (six years ago) link

I always wanted to own the Boulez 3-LP Lulu set. I borrowed that a couple of times from the library - a beautiful production.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 15:32 (six years ago) link

I love his Mahler Symphony no 6, it is at a slower tempo than the original recording (on some 80's cassette) I heard as a kid but has become the definitive one for me.

calzino, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 15:37 (six years ago) link

Can somebody talk about what makes his Mahlers different from Bernstein's (which I own)?

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:03 (six years ago) link

Ok this is weird. I just switched the 128gb micro sd card in my fiio player from the 'all film scores' card to the 'all kinds of different shit' card. I don't have the player set to shuffle, but for some reason without my choosing it immediately launched into Boulez' very early recording of Pierrot Lunaire with Domaine Musicale and helga pilarczyk. Like, it would be hard to pick a more emblematic Boulez album on purpose.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:30 (six years ago) link

Au revoir maitre

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:31 (six years ago) link

Can somebody talk about what makes his Mahlers different from Bernstein's (which I own)?

I am admittedly not a huge Mahler fan either (this thread is giving me bad karma), but just listened to the openings of Mahler 5 from Bernstein/Berlin and Boulez/BBC SO, and what immediately strikes me is that Boulez doesn't vary the tempo AT ALL. There is no give for romantic interpretation, it's a straight reading. Bernstein is a lot more dramatic, as far as the flow. That said, I actually preferred Boulez's take, because it seeped a lot of the *melo*drama out of the music.

Dominique, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:35 (six years ago) link

Xpost- first, do you have the dg or Sony Bernstein Mahler cycle? Because the Sony kicks the ass of the dg in every way. The remastering of the Sony Bernstein with the kind of sepia photo design scheme (released maybe 5 years ago?) was breathtaking.

Boulez' Mahler cycle took place in his later dg contract era when he had very much begun to emphasize the kaleidoscopic, arabesque and spatial in everything he recorded, and a kind of warm glow which was not a big part of his earlier style. His dg recordings are what I am thinking of when I say things like hallucinatory clarity and colors out of space. The Mahler cycle is super emblematic of this.

Boulez Mahler is hyper-detailed where Bernstein is panoramic technicolor, glowing lasers and sunlight where Bernstein is fireplaces and volcanos, his elements move on curves and sliders where bernstein's thrust and parry. Bernstein's nypo sound like a troop of weathered wise virtuosi where Boulez clevelanders chicagoans and Viennese sound like some kind of miraculous animation.

Those two Mahler cycles are extremely complementary actually. Bernstein is sometimes too rubato, Boulez is sometimes too intent. The perfect Mahler cycle will always be one assembled recording by recording from different conductors and orchestras but Bernstein Sony is probably my first choice for a single box (that 3rd and 6th are my favorites of anyone's) and Boulez is sheer unique magic in 1,3,4,6,8 and 9.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:50 (six years ago) link

Xpost I find Boulez Mahler 5th the weakest in his cycle though it's unlike anyone else's for sure.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:51 (six years ago) link

I have the Sony set - the special "Carnegie Hall Presents" packaging with the sepia photos you're describing. I may skip the Boulez, just 'cause I'm just not someone who needs multiple recordings of the same piece by different orchestras, different conductors etc. - my listening habits are just too rock- and jazz-tutored for that. (I know, jazz dudes record the same couple of dozen standards all the time, but I tend to hate them for it.) For example, I only own one set of Beethoven symphonies - the Chailly set from 2011. Some people say it's too aggro and wild, but I love it.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 16:56 (six years ago) link

Ha... I know what you're saying, and in some ways you'll maybe be more contented if you stick with a 'one good recording per work' approach, but man for me a least half the joy is the variety of performances, interpretations, engineering approaches, always with the feeling that 'the music itself' lies somewhere in the blank triangular area between Boulez Bernstein and Kubelik (or whomever you have at the corners)

Anyway... Given what you just said I'll recommend the dg Debussy/Ravel box if you want a great sample of late-master-era Boulez. Unless you already have yer debussys and Ravels in a row...

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 18:14 (six years ago) link

Know what, I think I'm mistaken that there is a Debussy/Ravel DG box. It looks like those recordings are part of the massive Boulez - Twentieth Century box from DG which is a hell of a trove. Basically everything 20c he recorded for dg except the Mahler cycle. I would pick this box over the complete Columbia even, based on the additional composer he had taken on board by this time and the even more heightened individuality plus sheer gorgeousness of the interpretations.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:13 (six years ago) link

RIP. Will put on Répons when I get home.

Jeff W, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:14 (six years ago) link

The cliche is true, for once: the end of an era. :-( Just put on Rituel, seemed fitting.

Also weird to think of that bunch of works of his which have now found their final temporary form.

anatol_merklich, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:22 (six years ago) link

^^^ YES. that is utterly bizarre to conceive.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:26 (six years ago) link

always with the feeling that 'the music itself' lies somewhere in the blank triangular area between Boulez Bernstein and Kubelik (or whomever you have at the corners)

The music itself lies in the SCORE obv. [ / snob]

EveningStar (Sund4r), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:31 (six years ago) link

I think I posted about this elsewhere but I saw him being interviewed at Carnegie Hall on the subject of Messiaen before an afternoon piano recital of 'Visions de l'amen' maybe 6-8 years ago -- I missed what he was conducting later that night, but it was great just to see him slouching in that chair and shamelessly holding forth on just about anything. At one point the interviewer touched on the subject of the birdsong melodies and he launched in people make too big a deal of that -- paraphrasing, "every composer since the dawn of time has used birdsong you see, and yet Janequin sounds idiomatically of the Renaissance, Beethoven sounds idiomatically Romantic, and Messiaen of course always sounds idiomatically post-serialist... so as an ordering technique it is merely... arbitrary..."

Of course that word, along with 'amateur', is just about the biggest possible insult Boulez ever deigns to lob, so to hear it while he introducing his teacher's music, somehow done simultaneously with contempt and total devotion, I'm happy I got to be there

The solo piano Sonatas / Notations are definitely my favorite and the 50's recordings of 'Marteau' still capture a real moment. The book of the Cage / Boulez correspondence is an amazing read, watching them passionately sharing all their compositions & ideas in progress before slowly realizing they were actually creatively diametrically opposed. Not too much of a fan of his conducting, even when he's doing his idols like Webern or Varèse (especially Varèse -- the recording of 'Deserts' that omits the tape sections -- what a jerk). But I might spring for this as this series constantly comes up in most of the histories -- has anyone heard this? -- http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4811510

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:38 (six years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS82nF85_gA

listening now

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:39 (six years ago) link

first modern classical composers i had heard of thanks to zappa.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 19:40 (six years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK3YoFSQp08

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:17 (six years ago) link

Some documentaries and interviews from Dutch television about Boulez

EvR, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:18 (six years ago) link

beware: youtube ads, damn youtube ads

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:18 (six years ago) link

Let´s hear it for Frank's answering machine:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2TtC1LtmFY&app=desktop

EvR, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:31 (six years ago) link

the end of an era doesn't really mean anything, other than that it is the era of the pierre boulez, sui generis in his own lifetime in that nobody else since mahler was so prominent in the two fields

as a conductor there are others of similar prominence from his generation still around

and as a composer kurtag (1926) is still around, and boulez' own conducting of him might be cited in evidence for his greatness; as at least not obviously undeserving in company of boulez, stockhausen, berio, ligeti, nono, xenakis, carter

difficult to really narrow that down to any essence beyond boulez and stockhausen (that being more wrt darmstadt/infamy/polemics than intrinsic difference)

oppen gangland style (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:31 (six years ago) link

Add crumb to kurtag IMO

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:45 (six years ago) link

Messiaen of course always sounds idiomatically post-serialist...

not really PB. And if he does, how? He sounds pretty obviously post Debussy and Ravel however, and it makes sense that IMO Boulez treats their music as if it is "post serialist" too...

Dominique, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 20:45 (six years ago) link

he might have said 'usually' instead of 'always' but yes the whole rant was authoritatively subjective

as a teenager in the 80's, when I began dutifully reading through all those '20th century music' books (the ones mostly written in the 60's) -- it was striking to see Boulez more often than not posited as the foremost inheritor of the classical tradition. not just the Paul Griffiths books; if you were a writer trying to construct a linear narrative connecting all the works of western symphonic development and extending it into the future, in the 50's/60's his compositions were just obviously right at the center of the apparent line most people were drawing. then I'd get the records and I couldn't square them, they were wildly anachronistic! but also obsessively detailed and great. reading the first few chapters of 'Orientations' and the Cage Boulez letters cracked him for me.

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:15 (six years ago) link

Kurtág and Crumb are good calls for that-generation-not-quite-gone-yet!

anatol_merklich, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:20 (six years ago) link

Milton (and everyone itt) that domaine musicale box is beyond amazing and you need it. That's where the Pierrot Lunaire I listened to earlier comes from. Sound quality is not a problem.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:20 (six years ago) link

xpost

He was definitely a hustler, and probably a visionary. Just not sure I share or appreciate that vision (in fact, I'm almost sure I don't). If you look at what happens at most prestigious university composition progams, Boulez (and the Darmstadt school in general) seems clearly the line that is followed and encouraged. However, there are plenty of dissenters -- including my hero and ex-Darmstadt'er Ligeti -- and based purely on his music, I don't see why there is any urgent reason to line up history just to arrive at Boulez's footsteps. And my god I am asking for a haunting today.

Dominique, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:26 (six years ago) link

His conductor self had no trace of the hustler, on the other hand. There's no equivalent of Glenn Gould's Beethoven pisstake in Boulez discography

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:31 (six years ago) link

Was just reading the Conversations With Boulez book last month (or as much as Google books would let me read) and it's so awesome, mostly him talking about what works he programmed and why and how to make them work, a great antidote for the Boulez iconoclast image

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:33 (six years ago) link

I don't think there's been any urgency to that project since the 60's, outside of conservatory. in the decades since, the dissenters all won handily. I find those books on western classical tradition fascinating because the 60's were just about the last decade where you could coherently construct a claim of linear development nudged along by individual masters, and the poor people whose job it was to do so basically had Boulez.

xpost the domanine musicale box is not on spotify. nothing's ever on spotify.

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:48 (six years ago) link

And most of the dg Boulez on Spotify was added in the bad old days before universal music stopped watermarking their files, and is thus horrible sounding (notable exception: the Mahler box is unmarred)

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:53 (six years ago) link

Annoying because I really wanted to make a Spotify playlist for y'all but I can't do it with Sony only

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 6 January 2016 21:54 (six years ago) link

Have UMG stopped watermarking their files? When did this happen? Most of the forum posts I saw about that a couple of years ago seemed to suggest that the complaints weren't getting much traction, especially as it wasn't as noticable with non-classical/acoustic material. I remember someone pointing out that the samples on DG's own site were cleaner than you got on iTunes.

Michael Jones, Thursday, 7 January 2016 12:28 (six years ago) link

Don't think anyone has won or lost. Boulez, Ligeti, Cage, Nono, Feldman and Stockhausen and all those people disagreed and fought with each other are all performed.

Over here the only things I don't see much of are the likes of Babbitt.

Ultimately its gone from Newton to Einstein and now beyond even that. Or you could also listen to minimalism too. All up for grabs.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 7 January 2016 13:06 (six years ago) link

Christian Wolff is still alive too btw.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 7 January 2016 13:06 (six years ago) link

Gottfried Michael Koenig

Anyway, it's not a three, it's a yogh. (Tom D.), Thursday, 7 January 2016 13:35 (six years ago) link

Xpost to my ears they stopped doing it around June 2013. Or they dialed it back to a level that's not evident to my hearing.

banned on ixlor (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 7 January 2016 13:38 (six years ago) link

five years pass...

Gottfried Michael Koenig

― Anyway, it's not a three, it's a yogh. (Tom D.), Thursday, 7 January 2016 13:35 (five years ago) bookmarkflaglink

I came to this thread to post Gottfried Michael Koenig not realizing I'd posted Gottfried Michael Koenig here five years ago. Anyway, Gottfried Michael Koenig is still alive and is now 94. Kurtág is older by ca. 9 months.

Authoritarian Steaks (Tom D.), Wednesday, 5 May 2021 13:43 (eight months ago) link

eight months pass...

He died a few days ago

RIP gottfried michael koenig (b 1926), literally last man standing. along w/xenakis & GENDY + brün & "sawdust," GMK was one of the first to conceptualize synthesis at sample level w/his Sound Synthesis Program (SSP), allowing for micro<->macro organization https://t.co/mRNi7aaoqv pic.twitter.com/xmlW9Ftfws

— callahan (@IRCAM_official) January 3, 2022

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 9 January 2022 11:12 (one week ago) link

I jinxed him by talking about him in this thread all the time.

I Can't See Gervais In My Mind (Tom D.), Sunday, 9 January 2022 11:35 (one week ago) link

Following the complete Domaine Musical recordings box on Accord, the complete Erato recordings box, and the complete Columbia recordings box...

https://store.deutschegrammophon.com/assets/asset_300x300/P0028948609154_1.jpg

https://store.deutschegrammophon.com/p51-i0028948609154

Hans Holbein (Chinchilla Volapük), Monday, 10 January 2022 05:35 (one week ago) link

Might need to rob a bank for this

Khafre's clown (Noodle Vague), Monday, 10 January 2022 08:49 (one week ago) link

The Bartok, Debussy, Bruckner and Messiaen from his DG/Universal era are incredible. His Mahler cycle is uneven - #5,7 and Das Lied don’t really work and #6 and 9 are half brilliant. #1-4 and 8 are amazing. The Webern cycle and his own works are intoxicatingly exquisite which I understand is not what some people want from this music - I’ve seen a lot of preference for the Columbia versions as having more bite. I think this kind of jewelry for the ears is exactly what he does best as a conductor though and I mean that as high praise.

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Monday, 10 January 2022 14:54 (one week ago) link

His Mahler 6 has always been my favourite version of that work. Recently I've been huffing his Schoenberg Pelleas, I love it so much.

glumdalclitch, Monday, 10 January 2022 15:59 (one week ago) link

Man his Mahler 6 is really close, there’s a lot I really love about it. I’m due a relisten, I’ve probably heard it ten times but not in the last three or so years

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Monday, 10 January 2022 18:12 (one week ago) link


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