Premiere record of Boulez's Notations is wonderful
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 12/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The high point here is Boulez's "Notations" I,II,III,IV. This creative odyssey began with the original early piano solo miniatures.The Boulez aesthetic constantly searches for re-readings,transmogrifications of music materials that reveal other more interesting implications. This is as if the agricultural seeds in an Egyptian tomb were discovered and planted and thus can still produce life.
The original plan was to orchestrate these piano miniatures, which works very well in that these are like high level etudes in orchestrations with explorations,relatively easy to rehearse.This then also helps represent the typical Boulez signature of refined sculpted focused chamber-like timbres, where single tones can direct the elegant unfolding of the materials,as in the opening of "Notation" I.Here the clarinet timbre directs the single fast mercurial transfoldings of orchestral colors,from winds to plucked strings to percussive tones. Naturally there is a large array of percussion here with massive divisions of the string constitution.
"Notation" II has more a heavier gesturing with longer like phrases of more sustained tones in which the various colors further enrich the orcehstral canvas. And "Notations III and IV have a toccata continuous running rhytmic pulses. These are quite powerful with aggressive uncompromising fast attacks,and hard edged orchestral timbres.This all highly controlled and directed within the relativelt short lengths.
Barenboim has known orchestral etudes for some time however I have heard these played with more passion and imagination.
Here I didn't feel Boulez's many times light,gentle transparent balance within the orchestral forces where we tend to hear everything,even an isolated plucked harp string where certain colors stick out in relief. There was more a rounded timbre to be achieved here in this performance with an overall compacted full-blended timbre,more Germanic than French. Likewise Debussy's "La Mer" was well played with wonderful wind solos from Mathieu Dufour,Flute and Alex Klein, Oboe,Adolph Herseth,Trumpet. Barenboim allowed for a direct functional reading here,with special emphasis on the more lyrical dimnesions of the score
The final blinding Noon Sun mirror against the white sheets of the water,its power and overwhelming presence represented by the brass section. This occurs at the ending momnents of "De l'aube a midi sur la mer" From Dawn to Noon."