Evaluation: The 80-year-old Monday Evening Concerts series goes back to the future with Boulez

” Has anybody anywhere ever done anything like this?” Peter Yates asked when he started a chamber music series with an all Bartók program in the rooftop studio of his modest Silver Lake house on April 23,1939 It was a rhetorical concern. Nope, nobody was giving home-grown shows of leading figures in brand-new music.

Quickly enough, Schoenberg and Stravinsky and Cage would be climbing up the stairs to Evenings on the Roofing System, and Ives would be sending scores that no one else was intriguing in performing. But it was, possibly, the advocacy of French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez that the majority of represented the series’ gift of prophesy in the 1950 s. Therefore, a tribute to Boulez ended the season of what is now called Monday Evening Concerts today, a month after its 80 th birthday, in the Colburn School’s Zipper Concert Hall.

The long-running MEC-Boulez relationship started with the U.S. best of a young French firebrand’s experimental and soon-to-be-withdrawn “Polyphony X,” which The Times discovered “weird.” An interested Stravinsky attended all the practice sessions, and you can hear an allusion to it in his ballet rating “Agon.”

In 1996, Boulez returned Stravinsky’s favor in “sur incises,” his most extensive late work, which is for 3 pianos, three harps and a tangle of percussion instruments managed by three gamers. The sonorities of Stravinsky’s 4 pianos in “L’Histoire du Soldat,” Boulez said at the time, remained in his head.

It so took place that not only did Boulez make his U.S. performing debut with the MEC but that his last performance in America was likewise an efficiency of ” sur incises” he carried out at Walt Disney Concert Hall in2011 (With his eyesight stopping working, his conducting profession was all however over and he died five years later.)

The style for the MEC program was “Élégance Brutale,” describing a meticulous author unafraid of hazardous choices, and it was constructed around “sur incises.” There is no question that the work has actually made a mark. Prior to performing a recent efficiency in Berlin, Daniel Barenboim firmly insisted that “sur incises” is to the 21 st century what Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” was to the 20 th.

The meaning of “sur incises” is “around” the short piano study Boulez called “incises” (interpolations). Monday, then, was sur “sur incises,” that is, an event for some creative 20 th century viewpoint. The brutale for the work may have originated from Stravinsky, but the élégance is all Debussy.

For this, MEC dug through the Boulez archives for another early, never ever published Boulez rating, a completion the composer made in the early 1950 s of Debussy’s “Musique de Scène pour les Chansons de Bilitis.” These are brief musical interludes highlighting narrations of the elegant eroticism of poems by Pierre Louÿs. Debussy never ever got around to finishing it (just as Boulez never navigated to finishing excessive of his own music), and the conclusion was music for hire, essentially written in Debussy’s design.

But the orchestration for pairs of harps and flutes, together with a celesta, provides Boulez away. Currently, he is showing his amazing ear for sonorities with numerous instruments and stunning percussion that would end up being the hallmark of “sur incises.”

Exceptionally played and told alluringly by Eva Dolezalová, the acoustical scene was first set by an efficiency of Debussy’s solo flute “Syrinx” radiantly drizzling down on the phase, thanks to Christine Tavolacci stationed in a balcony. The “Bilitis” scene was then followed by Toru Takemitsu’s “Rain Tree” for three mallet instruments, further setting the “sur incises” scene. Gloria Cheng, who was among Boulez’s preferred pianists, brought harsh sophistication to Toshio Hosokawa’s brief “Haiku for Pierre Boulez.”

The efficiency of “sur incises,” which was carried out by percussionist and MEC creative director Jonathan Hepfer, made a case for the work being not so much a brand-new kind of music for the 21 st century, simply as “Rite” was for the 20 th, but in fact a brand-new “Rite.” That is to state it was more harsh than sophisticated.

At 44 minutes, the reading required almost seven minutes more than Boulez’s recording. This didn’t always suggest it felt slow. Harps, pianos and a host of percussion instruments can seem like being in a forest of gongs, and more time needs to be enabled for reverberation in a sold-out performance hall than in a dry recording place. There are a great deal of bodies for the plucked, banged and struck fortissimo chords to bounce off of.

Rhythm was mastered, and that is primary. So was timbre, also main. Many passages were jailing, especially when multi-instrumental clatter coalesced into a gushing ringing that seemed to set all the particles of space into planetary movement. Thunderous unison pounding had a primitive force. Drama was at hand.

Still, this is complex, dynamically complex music. When had fun with forced insistence, those extra seven minutes contributed less the sense of music around “incises” than a perilous insistently circling around, a delaying of the landing. What was not for a superb “sur incises” second, though, was the MEC insistence that its Boulezian DNA add to making this the longest-lasting new music series in America. We ought to all be so crucial at 80.

Find Out More

Angie Ronson

Angie Ronson is Editor-in-Chief at THRS. She covers the transformative impact of new technology on all sectors.