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Le Domaine musical Volume 1 (1956-1967) 
CD1 - Le concert du 10e anniversaire

Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN (b. 1929) Kontra-punkte (1952) [11:26]
Luciano BERIO (1925-2003) Serenata [10:24]
Pierre BOULEZ (b. 1925) Le Marteau sans maître (1952) [32:16]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Oiseaux exotiques (1956) [13:52]
CD 2 - Les references françaises
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918): Syrinx (1912) [3:34]
Edgard VARÈSE (1883-1965) Densité 21.5, (1936-46) [5:50] Hyperprism, (1923) [6:34] Octandre (1922) [4:40] Intégrales, (1923) [11:10]
Oliver MESSIAEN Cantéyodjayă, (1948) [12:06] Sept Haïkaï (1962) [18:43]
CD 3 - Le compositeur Boulez

Pierre BOULEZ Structures, (1951) [14:21] Sonatine pour flûte et piano (1946) [11:44] Sonate No 2 pour piano (1948) [33:36]
CD 4 - Les compagnons de route

Maurizio KAGEL (b. 1931) Sextuor à cordes, (1953-7) [7:34]
Luigi NONO (1924-1990) Incontri (1955) [6:01]
Hans Werner HENZE (b 1926) Concerto per Il Marigny, (1956) [6:35]
Henri POUSSEUR (b. 1929) Madrigal III, (1962) [12:01] Mobile pour 2 pianos (1958) [10:11]
Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN Zeitmasse, (1956) [13:38] Klavierstück (1956) [17:03]
PLUS bonus CD – first recording of Le Marteau sans maître and interview with Boulez
Soloists and Orchestra of Domaine musical/Pierre Boulez
rec. Paris, 1956-1967. ADD
ACCORD - UNIVERSAL CLASSICS 476 9209 [5 CDs: 66:54 + 62:32 + 59:46 + 73:15 + 79.38]
 


The Domaine musical was created to provide opportunities for new music. In Germany and Austria the legacy of decades without new music lingered, and the best musicians of the previous generation had emigrated. Paris naturally became a magnet. The Domaine was an exciting milieu in which the best and most innovative in music and other arts could congregate: it was a springboard for creativity, stimulating new ideas and alliances. No less than Jean Cocteau attended the first concert, resplendent in flowing cape, “the embodiment of the eternal avant-garde!” as one writer put it. Through these circles musicians like Carter, Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio, Messiaen, Cage and Varèse came together. Moreover, since it brought new music to influential audiences sophisticated enough to appreciate what it meant, it gave the avant-garde high profile credibility and encouraged enlightened patronage. Although music was its main raison d’être, its atmosphere was enhanced by an awareness of other arts, cinema, for example, and abstract painting. At one meeting, Boulez, always an art-lover, gave a talk on the Blau Reiter movement.
 
The Domaine was a seminal, and exciting phase in the growth of post-war music. Its importance can’t be underestimated. Through this series of recordings from Accord - Universal Classics, we too, can share something of the thrill of those heady times (also see review of Volume 2). What an atmosphere there must have been on those weekends, crowded into the Petit-Marigny theatre or the unheated Trinité church! What I particularly like about the performances on these recordings is the sense of immediacy and experimentation. The musicians – drawn from the best players throughout Paris – were themselves in the process of discovery. These were new works, many of them premières, and they are played with a freshness that’s very stimulating. Of course, you could find more polished recordings, but that isn’t the point. These musicians and audiences were willing to learn and open their minds and souls, even though many of them were formidably accomplished in their own ways.
 
The set starts with the 10th anniversary concert, presumably in 1964 – no actual dates are given as the set’s main focus is on the music. It is a valedictory. Stockhausen’s Kontra-Punkte, completed weeks before the inaugural concert starts the programme. In the intervening decade, Boulez has developed a sure and confident approach to Stockhausen’s radical ideas. It’s followed by one of the numerous pieces specially written for the Domaine, Berio’s Serenata!, hauntingly played by Severino Gazzelloni, who also solos on Boulez’s Sonatine pour flute on the second disc. Compare the two works, by close friends of the same age and outlook, but very different styles. It’s followed by a lively rendering of Boulez’s Le Marteau sans maître. Signifigantly, no Boulez work was premiered by the Domaine. Le Marteau was first conducted at Donaueschingen by Hans Rosbaud. In this set we have a bonus, the first recording of the piece, from 1956, with Boulez conducting. Again, it’s fun to compare the two. The later version is more expressive, with much more open textures. The later soloist, Jeanne Deroubaix, has a far more rounded voice, and a more flexible feel for the lines. It’s clear evidence that an interpretation can grow with experience.
 
Messiaen was a guiding spirit in Boulez’s life and in the Domaine. By far the best known French composer of his generation, his support for the project ensured its success. Oiseaux exotiques was first heard in a 1955 Domaine concert, played, as we have here, by Yvonne Loriod. On the second disc is the lovely Cantéyodjayă, again with Loriod. Although it’s not stated on this recording, it was part of the second concert, in February 1954, with a group of other Messiaen pieces. The set isn’t arranged chronologically but by theme, so there’s more Messiaen in Disc two, dedicated to French influences. Loriod’s Sept Haïkaï here is another Domaine première from 1963. The Domaine was even more important in championing the music of Edgard Varèse: Boulez and Carter passionately studying his music. Indeed, Boulez made the first readily available recordings of the composer. Chailly learned his Varèse from Berio, who learned from Boulez. The group of recordings here is not quite in the same league as Boulez’s later realisations, but has a gutsy, experimental quality which I like.
 
A short disc is devoted to Boulez’s own compositions, which featured in these programmes. Loriod plays Sonate. No 2, a daunting piece which she carries off well. The Kontarsky brothers play Structures, and David Tudor the Sonatine. On the final disc, we have more of the usual favourites, including Henri Pousseur whose work remains under-appreciated today. Henze too, is included, Loriod playing once more, even though Henze and Boulez were to have differences after Darmstadt. This, too, was a special piece for the Domaine.
 
All in all, this is a very worthwhile set, and one for anyone seriously interested in that exciting period in the 1950s when so much was going on artistically and musically. Boulez may be best known as a composer, conductor and writer, but he is also a great enabler, a man whose love for music leads him to find new opportunities to learn and experience. It was this frame of mind that guided the Domaine, and was later to inspire his other ventures like IRCAM and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. That is why I’ve enjoyed this set. The performers are all very good, and knowledgeable, but open to learning new things. My father used to say “Stop learning and you die”. In new music especially, I think, openness to learning is life, and prejudice is death.
 
Anne Ozorio
 

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