PIERRE BOULEZ - 20TH CENTURY 4794261

. . . [Boulez's] recordings of the 20th-century classics were revelatory in their transparency, precision and passion . . . Pierre's passion for the composers he conducted was so great, his enthusiasm so enormous, that you could feel it emanate from him with the warmth and intensity of sunlight . . . Boulez's compositions are highly organised, brilliantly executed and attuned as few others to the beauty of sound. A work like "Eclat" seems to marvel at the very phenomenon of sound itself. I also feel that his works are overwhelming in their emotional intensity . . . [Boulez] works in the manner of a novelist or playwright, where layers of meaning all interact so tightly that your emotion is given form by the passage itself. It is hard to put into words the sense of transience, loss, nobility, shock, sadness and inevitability at the very end of "Rituel: In memoriam Bruno Maderna". As the final notes of the procession recede, we are left with a sense of emptiness offset by memories of vivid, living, pulsating textures. There is nothing like it.

. . . one of the most outspoken and even strident of international avant-garde composers, theoreticians, polemecists and acousticians . . . His conducting personality, according to Simon Rattle, is such that "there is a whole generation of us who were completely educated by Boulez. His complete lack of the maestro ethic is irresistible" . . . [a] great and historic box set . . . His phenomenal precision is bracing in Bartok and close to revelatory in something like Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe" but it doesn't undercut the late-Romantic extravagance of, say, Schoenberg's "Pelleas and Melisande" in the slightest . . . You'd be hard put to believe that a musical thinker so given to bloodless theorizing and dismissal could be such an exquisite interpreter of some of the 20th century's most prodigious masterworks. The paradox of Pierre Boulez never quite gets old.

[Bartók]: The soloists in the concertos are excellent: Krystian Zimerman, Leif Ove Andsnes and Hélène Grimaud; Gidon Kremer, Gil Shaham and Yuri Bashmet -- and Jessye Norman is luxury casting in "Duke Bluebeard's Castle", effortlessly surfing the Chicago sound . . . Berg's "Lulu" with Teresa Stratas is stunning, while the "Lulu Suite" with Anna Prohaska in Vienna is a lovely bonus. And if you suspect that Boulez would get on with Birtwistle's music, you'd he right; "Theseus Game" and "Earth Dances" with Ensemble Modern are brilliantly etched, and "The Triumph of Time" with the BBC Symphony is a fine souvenir of that vital relationship . . . Ligeti with the Ensemble Intercontemporain is as deliciously detailed as it ought to be, there's enough sensuality in the Messiaen songs, and the Ravel with the Berlin Philharmonic is beautifully examined . . . Christian Tetzlaff in Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 is excellent. The last three CDs are some of the most beautifully realised recordings of Webern you'll find . . . [this box] acknowledges the impact of one of the most significant musicians in modern music, and you can't help reflecting, as you listen, on how much might have been different without him.

. . . there is something so refreshing about these recordings of Bartók's music that makes them an excellent way to get to come to know how much talent and understanding Boulez brought to his work . . . The success of these recordings may have much to do with how effectively Boulez worked with his production team. He clearly understands that balance on a recording is not the same as balance in a concert hall. As a result he knows how to shape his expectations to the reality of the situation, taking advantage of affordances that others might find unduly restrictive. One of the most striking results involves the interplay of winds with concerto solo instruments, particularly the piano. Many of these passages are so transparent that they almost sound like chamber music.

. . . over the last 50 years no conductor has had a greater influence on the way 20th-century music is regarded; he has defined the standards of clarity, precision and understanding with which we now expect such music to be performed . . . [Bartók's "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta"] is crystal clear, every string line perfectly defined in the stereo picture . . . a wonderful performance of Messiaen's masterpiece "Chronochromie" . . .

. . . perhaps the world's most complete musician, and without doubt one of its very greatest conductors . . . Boulez is now lionized not only for his mastery of modern and contemporary works, but for the ability to elicit fresh sonic and structural details in works stretching back to the 19th century . . . the new set makes the vitally important point that a great deal of this music -- running chronologically from Debussy through Birtwistle and . . . Boulez himself -- is now our standard repertoire . . . [Debussy]: [there is lucidity there,] but couched in sound so elegant and refined -- courtesy of the Cleveland Orchestra in stellar form -- that the music seems weightless and almost giddy, even in the final paroxysms of "La Mer" . . . [in the Webern interpretations] there is a timbral depth and opulence that transforms the music's forbidding ambiance into something akin to a guilty pleasure. It's odd indeed to say that Webern's scores can be caressed into sound, but that seems as good a description as any of what happens here . . . [Schoenberg]: what there is, including a luxurious "Pelleas et Melisande" and a crystalline reading of the opera "Moses und Aron", is glorious. As for Boulez's own mysteriously involving works, . . . it is difficult to imagine their shimmering surfaces emerging more beautifully than under their creator's direction . . . he's bequeathed to us an immense gift: a gateway to the music of our time. The century has never seemed so limitless.

. . . [a] most interesting and important set.

. . . [this box] most reliably conveys and supports the international image of Boulez as a high-priest of modernism. . . many of the highlights in the DG box derive from his long and happy association with the Cleveland Orchestra . . . With them he made his best Messiaen recordings -- his third "Et exspecto", a monument of magnificently controlled, cumulative power, his only version of "Chronochromie" and his last, definitive Debussy (especially his beloved "Jeux") . . . Another highlight of the DG box is eight discs of Bartók from Chicago. These include not only brighter, punchier retreads of the ballets and "Bluebeard" . . . but also piano concerto recordings with Zimerman, Andsnes and Grimaud . . . [on Bartók's Second Violin Concerto] the partnership with Gil Shaham is all about colour, cleanly cut, Fauvist: each phrase with its own shade . . . [Berg's "Lulu" is an essential work for Boulez's legacy] and his pioneering recording has in Teresa Stratas a heroine still unmatched for vocal/sexual allure . . . [the "Lulu Suite" with the Vienna Philharmonic from Boulez's last official recording revels] in a sumptuous orchestral and recorded sound stage . . .

A handsomely, economically packaged tribute to one of the most incisive, individual conductors of the last 50 years, this set really does Boulez the conductor proud. Many must-have recordings are there -- the Paris "Lulu", Ravel and Webern of the precisest clarity, utterly committed Birtwistle -- in what is also a stand-alone celebration of the greatest orchestral music of that 100 years.

. . . Boulez has one of the most significant recorded legacies of the past half-century, which includes a number of works no one else has ever recorded. He set new standards for accuracy and clarity in orchestral playing, particularly in his recordings of Debussy, Stravinsky and the composers of the second Viennese school, Schoenberg, Webern and Berg . . . ["Pierre Boulez Le Domaine Musical 1956 ¿ 1967" CD]: there's a pioneering spirit evident in the performances, and the discs have considerable historical significance . . . And there's Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony Op. 9 in a performance from 1964 that tears along . . . the performance is incredibly exciting . . . ["Pierre Boulez - 20th Century" CD]: Boulez's discs of Mahler symphonies and songs are, for me, his most important achievement with DG . . . These are the symphonies of a proto-modernist. There's no sentimentality here and barely a whiff of old Vienna, unless Mahler has written it into his score . . . ["Boulez conducts Mahler" CD]: The Mahler symphonies are available in their own box, and they represent hours of fascination and, even if you know them, the thrill of discovery.

. . . [where modernism is concerned, the "mother lode" for 2015 would have to be] the decision of Universal Music Classics to release a ten-CD anthology of the Domaine musical performances performed and/or organized by Pierre Boulez . . . As interesting as the studied but always expressive performances in this collection is the scope of repertoire that spans from Arnold Schoenberg through Igor Stravinsky (particularly involving Stravinsky's own exploration of serial techniques) and up to Boulez and his colleagues and other contemporaries. This is "must listening" for anyone who takes his/her listening seriously . . .

. . . a spectacular 44-disc limited edition . . .

. . . einfach beeindruckend . . . Am 26. März feiert die Musikwelt den 90. Geburtstag von Pierre Boulez -- und auch dank dieser CD-Dokumentation weiß man, warum . . .

. . . [eine große] Sammlung bedeutender Stücke der Moderne . . . 44  CDs, das heißt mehr als 50  Stunden der Hörerfahrung, die Kenner genießen und Einsteiger als willkommene, aufregende Lehreinheiten betrachten können.

Egal, wo man hineinhört, man staunt über die Qualität dieser brillanten Einspielungen. Selbst hochkomplexe Partituren, wie Harrison Birtwistles "Earth Dances" oder "The Triumph Of Time", Strawinskys "Petruschka" oder sein "Le Sacre du Printemps", fächert Boulez souverän auf und vermittelt sie mit einer Sinnlichkeit, die man für gewöhnlich nicht mit Neuer Musik in Verbindung bringt . . . [Bartoks 2. Klavierkonzert stellt] in seiner entfesselten Vitalität wohl die meisten Vergleichsaufnahmen in den Schatten . . . Herrlich auch Boulez' luzide Debussy- und Ravel-Interpretationen, für die ihm der biegsame Klang des Cleveland Orchestra beziehungsweise die Souveränität der Berliner Philharmoniker, etwa beim streng, aber mit großer Intensität musizierten "Bolero", kongeniale Partner sind . . . [Schönberg / "Moses und Aron"]: Mit dieser Aufnahme widerruft der Dirigent Boulez im Grunde den Komponisten Boulez. Derart spannend musiziert gibt es eigentlich keinen Zweifel: Schönberg lebt!

. . . [diese Box] spart nicht mit Höhepunkten.

. . . [de l'inoubliable "Lulu" de 1977 à la Symphonie no. 3 de Szymanowski] rien ne manque . . . sinon Bruckner et surtout le cycle Mahler!

. . . [le coffret] vaut pour ses beaux remakes de Debussy ("La Mer", "Images") Bartok ("Concerto pour orchestre", "Quatre pièces op. 12"), Stravinsky ("L'Oiseau de feu", le "Sacre", "Pétrouchka"), Schonberg ("Moïse et Aaron"), Ravel, Webern ("deuxième intégrale"). Aussi pour la version en trois actes de "Lulu", des Ligeti passionnants (concertos), des oeuvres majeures du compositeur ("Répons") et l' éclairage mis sur l'accompagnateur, prodigieux . . .