PIERRE BOULEZ / LE DOMAINE MUSICAL 1956 ... 1967 4811510

. . . [this box] tells the most interesting story with exemplary documentation, describing in both words and music Boulez's foundation of Le Domaine Musical . . . To have read of Loriod's phenomenal virtuosity in music beyond Messiaen is one thing but to hear her play Berg (Sonata), Webern (Variations) and Boulez's own Second Sonata is quite another. There is much chamber music here (a supple and spacious "Verklärte Nacht" with the Quatuor Parrenin and friends, Schoenberg's Serenade done with equal freedom), and also the famously exact South West German RSO performances of "Agon" and the Op 6 pieces of Berg and Webern . . . discoveries substantial out of all proportion to their duration include Schoenberg's three tiny but furious pieces from 1910 and Jean-Claude Eloy's shimmering "Equivalences" . . . It's impossible not to be moved by the palpable sense here of making music because it matters.

. . . 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 ż 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.

Some of these performances have an urgency and freshness of discovery . . . there is a high-voltage assortment of Boulez's Varčse at an early stage . . . [a] fascinating set.

. . . [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 fascinating document of Boulez's early firebrand days . . . throughout all, a palpable sense of discovery makes these performances truly exciting . . . Pianist Yvonne Loriod displays her extraordinary virtuosity, not only in Messiaen but Boulez (Sonata No 2), Henze, and Berg's Piano Sonata . . . My highlight: a closeup Schoenberg "Pierrot Lunaire" with contralto Helga Pilarczyk. Sound quality is surprisingly good.