Complexity,timbre,luminosity in rehearsal
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 05/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We experience two masterworks of modernity in rehearsal. Berg's "Three Pieces for Orchestra" as Boulez tells us in his brief remarks interrupting the actual rehearsal sequences here,is not quite a symphony,it has no shape or form which resembles its predecessor. Instead, the "Three Pieces" has a wonderful intense complexity of shape and design,one of asymmetry the first movement,like a prelude is very compact and durationally short, very easy to play, the motivic problems resolve themselves admirably, and there are no real timbral problems as pitting the brass against the strings as we will find in the concluding "march". The middle movement is a bit harder in creative focus, and for us, the listener. There are timbral layers, as Boulez tells us that need to be clarified, you have the main motivic idea,then an idea which is like a mimic of it,then still another sound as a chordal background.He takes specific moments in all this, as wanting to hear the three trumpets for intonation, without the flutter tongueing. Boulez finds the rhythm is wrong and a note in the third trumpet. Then moves to the three flutes, wanting the upper first flute always to direct the others. The concluding "March" is the most difficult here, it is much lonfer in duration than the two preceeding movements, so the symphonic form has an overt extroverted expressivity,with a lumbering-like conclusion that weighs this work down, as opposed to the predictable Romantic pathway of scouring/running towards the heavens at the conclusions be it Bruckner, Brahms, or Mahler.Next Boulez's own "Notations" played 1,4,2,3. He said to the players, "Please remember that order". This was an early set of miniture piano pieces from the early Forties,much influenced by the Grande Auteurs, Debussy/Ravel, Bartok/Stravinsky, Berg/Webern/Schoenberg, enduring icons of the Boulez aesthetic. Heard in rehearsal side by side with the Berg, you immediately vision the progressive complexity, that the orchestra has indeed grown and evolved. There are wonderful moments here as #3, which goes by itself with its persistent pulse."No need for more rehearsal"But Boulez needs to check notes as in the Bassoon in #1"E-flat Yes that's OK, let's hear the next bar" Boulez says. He also stops to check that each trombone plays with a straight mute for a more uniform timbre,and the resultant timbre of the violas mixed with the tapping of the bow hairs on the contrabass strings.
There seems to be adeep set ambience, matter of fact music making here, all business,yet serious toward the magical, mysteries, the power and force of Boulez and Berg's music."
Vintage Boulez, poorly edited
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD features Boulez at his best. Here we see him relaxed as ever conducting some of the thorniest music around. His ability to hear everything and gently coax the players to perfection is greatly displayed here. His commentary is also very good.What I found most annoying is that the commentary is frequently over the music. This would be OK if we actually heard the music at another time but frequently we don't. The worst is the spoken remarks placed over the final minutes of the Berg 3 Pieces. This shattering moment in music is completely lost. For instance, we see the percussionist bashing the Mahler hammer to the floor but can barely hear it.Aside from that BIG caveat, the DVD features great music, great playing and great Boulez. Too bad the editing couldn't have been the same."