Editor: Marc Bridle

 

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

 

 

                    

Google

WWW MusicWeb


Search Music Web with FreeFind




Any Review or Article


 

 

Seen and Heard Concert Review

 

Boulez and the LSO (I): Boulez, Bartok, Stravinsky: Hélène Grimaud (pf); London Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez (conductor); Barbican, October 8th 2004 (AR)

 

The polymath and phenomenon known as Pierre Boulez turns a concert into an event - and such was the Barbican's programme of Boulez, Bartok and Stravinsky.

 

The innovation of Boulez' Livre pour Cordes (1948/9, arr. 1968, rev. 1989) is that the writing for strings has a distinct texture, sounding almost as if they were made of different metals. Whilst there are echoes of Debussy and Bartok in this score, it is very much Boulez' sound world, alien to classical convention and composition. The work does not operate in a linear 'commonsense' clock time but goes back upon itself and divides itself into multiple time zones - the work never really begins and never really ends. The versatile LSO strings adapted to this Boulez sound with great aplomb, playing with acidic bite and a grainy gravitas.

 

This was the third time I have heard Hélène Grimaud play Bela Bartok's Piano Concerto No.3 (1945) 'live' and her performance under Boulez was entirely different from her former readings; she never ceases to astonish and excite. Her performance on this occasion was much more percussive and made of sterner stuff, even darker and more daring than the earlier ones. It is as if she herself is rediscovering the piece each time she plays it, making us hear it afresh too.

 

Grimaud seems to attune her tone and temperament to the sounds of the orchestra she is working with and here she took on the hues of the LSO - sombre and stark, with piano and woodwind in particular in perfect unison. With the ‘Adagio religioso’ she brought out an alienating quality, fragmenting the notes between sound and silence yet without losing the onward flow of the music. As a point of interest, György Sándor, who was one of Grimaud's teachers, premiered this concerto, providing a bridging link between herself and Bartok. The last movement was performed at lightening speed, with Grimaud's resonant sounds perfectly complementing the incisive timpani interjections of Nigel Thomas. Boulez and the LSO, needless to say, gave brilliant support throughout. After hearing this bleakly and emotionally intense performance one wonders how Grimaud will interpret this work again in the future.

 

Boulez conducted Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring from a score, without a baton and using his customary minimalist gestures in the manner of Markervitch and Monteux. And like these two conductors, Boulez conducted the score with chamber like intricacy and precision where even in the climaxes all the orchestral details of the score shone through without congestion. Bassoonist Rachel Gough's unnervingly high- pitched opening solo perfectly established the eerie mood, setting the tone for this emotionally raw performance. In ‘Harbingers of Spring: Dances of the Adolescents’ the only thing lacking was weight and toughness in the early passages for stabbing string chords’. In stark contrast, the brass, timpani and bass drum had a brutal impact in ‘Mock Abduction and Games of the Rival Tribes.’ The pacing of ‘Adoration of the Earth and Dance of the Earth’ were a little ponderous at first, tending to negate the sense of forward-thrusting, manic movement.

 

‘Part Two: The Sacrifice’ was beautifully measured and intense and never dragged with Boulez conjuring subterranean sounds in the ‘Introduction (Largo),’ and the LSO playing with concentration and relentless precision. ‘The Sacrificial Dance of the Chosen One’ was breathtakingly intense, with Boulez' inexorable tempo and the timpani and bass drum nailing the music to the death which brings this primeval score to its nerve wracking conclusion. This was a shattering but exhilarating experience for all concerned.

 

Alex Russell

 

Further listening:

 

Bela Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major: Martha Argerich (pf), Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit (conductor); EMI Classics: 56654

 

Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, James Levine (conductor): Deutsche Grammophon: 474 485-2(CD)



Back to the Top     Back to the Index Page


 





   

 

 

 

MusicWeb - The International Web Site Founder: Len Mullenger [UK], Classical Editor: Rob Barnett [UK],  Regular Reviewers:   Steve Arloff [UK], Guy Aron [Australia], Tony Augarde [UK], Terry Barfoot [UK], Melinda Bargreen [USA], David J. Barker [Australia], Rob Barnett [UK], Nick Barnard [UK], Robert Beattie [UK], Dave Billinge [UK], Peter Bright [UK], Byzantion [UK], Colin Clarke [UK], Dominy Clements [Netherlands], Michael Cookson [UK], Hubert Culot [Belgium], Evan Dickerson [UK], Gavin Dixon [UK], Robert J. Farr [UK], Christopher Fifield [UK], Göran Forsling [Sweden], John France [UK], Patrick Gary [USA], Pierre Giroux [CAN], Paul C. Godfrey [UK], Michael Greenhalgh [UK], William Hedley [France], Gary Higginson [UK], Neil Horner [UK], Robert Hugill UK], David Jennings [UK], Bill Kenny [UK], William S Kreindler [USA], Ian Lace [UK], Em Marshall-Luck [UK], Oleg Ledeniov [USA]Rob Maynard [UK], David A McConnell [USA], Kirk McElhearn [France], Robert McKechnie [UK], Ralph Moore [RMo] [UK], Dan Morgan [UK], Margarida Mota-Bull [UK], Glyn Pursglove [UK], John Quinn [UK], Carla Rees [UK], Brian Reinhart [USA], Donald Satz [USA], Mark Sealey [USA], John Sheppard [UK], George Stacy, Kevin Sutton [USA], Bert Thompson [USA], Simon Thompson [UK], Zane Turner [Australia], Steve Vasta [UK], Johan van Veen [Netherlands], Raymond Walker [UK], Derek Warby [UK], Brian Wilson [UK], Jonathan Woolf [UK] Leslie Wright [USA]. A complete list of contributors can be seen here




EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Past and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

MusicWeb International thank Naxos for the no-strings use of their server to mount the website.