Pierre-Boulez Biennale at the Philharmonie: five concerts to experience live

Maintain? Report ? To the question that most heads of cultural institutions are currently asking themselves to give up, for an indefinite period of time, to welcoming the public, the organizers of the Pierre-Boulez Biennale (2e edition) decided to respond by adopting both strategies. Five concerts (among others, the event consisting of the revival of the mythical Answer, composed at IRCAM by its founding director) were relocated between June 28 and 30. Five others were maintained, without an audience, with broadcast from January 19 to 23 on the platform of the Philharmonie de Paris.

If these first meetings offer a diversified approach to the production of Pierre Boulez (died January 5, 2016 at the age of 90), they are not distinguished either by their originality (the French genealogy which, on the 20th, will confront the composer of Sun of the waters to his elders Ravel and Debussy is as usual as the highlighting of the poetic axis, scheduled for the 21st around Cummings ist der Dichter) nor by their coherence (the viola, common thread, of a course, the 23, in which Boulez appears by the transposition of a work, Sketch messages, originally intended for seven cellos!).

One axis, however, allows us to glimpse Boulez’s thought and his taste for permanent research. We know that the admirer of Gustav Mahler exercised, like him, an important activity of conductor. We have somewhat forgotten that, in the 1950s, he also took the stage as a pianist to create his own works, notably as a duet with his master Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). The piano can therefore be considered as the key to the Boulézien universe, at least with regard to the radical post-war period (1945-1960), which resembles a sort of big bang.

Sixty years of creation

Three pianists will testify, on January 19, at the opening of the Biennale. Dimitri Vassilakis and Hideki Nagano in a short and synthetic program. Florent Boffard in a recital covering sixty years of creation (from Notations from 1945 to A page of ephemeris revealed almost incognito by the young Gaspard Dehaene in 2008). Of the three Boulez sonatas that will be played that day, the third is undoubtedly the most nebulous, in every sense of the word. Flocked with skilfully projected notes, it illustrates Boulez’s interest in the unfrozen form, under cover of an attempt to adapt to the music of the Mallarmean project of Delivered infinite. As a result, the work only experienced fragmentary presentations (first, in 1957, by the composer himself) before ending up with a version in two movements (called “formants”). The order of execution of the sub-parts of these two components (Trope, Constellation-Mirror) being left to the choice of the performer, the atrophied sonata never presents the same face.

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