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Pierre Boulez: Le Marteau sans maître, Dérive 1, Dérive 2 (2002 version)
Hilary Summers
Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez

This gloriously scintillating, fascinating music never fails to move and intrigue me. It's always a pleasure to return to Boulez!

This recording of Le Marteau sans maître is much slower and softer-edged than any of Boulez's previous, but nonetheless I think it might be my favorite. I need to pick up the recording conducted by Pascal Gallois, which I've heard great things about.

 

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Igor Stravinsky: Fireworks & The Firebird
London Symphony Orchestra, Antal Dorati

A justly celebrated performance and recording. In the SACD release, you'd almost swear it was recorded yesterday. But it was 1959 for The Firebird, and the performance is really about as good as it gets. Just superb on every level. A triumph!

 

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Pierre Boulez: Le Visage nuptial (1989 revision)
Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Elizabeth Lawrence
BBC Singers
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

This sumptous, gorgeous piece is an example where I think Boulez's music can be appreciated easily and richly by anyone who listens to it with open ears, without prejudice. It's as beautiful and diaphonously impressionistic as anything by Debussy, albeit in a more chromatic and dissonant musical universe. Highly recommended!

 

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Arnold Schönberg: Chamber Symphony No. 1 , Op. 9
Berliner Philharmoniker, Giuseppe Sinopoli

This is one of my favorite pieces by Schönberg, and one of my favorite recordings of it. The performance and sound quality are top shelf. The latter, in particular, demonstrates that Deutsche Grammophon could in fact make great, well-engineered recordings early in the digital era.

 

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I haven't paid much attention to this because it's sung, and I've been too lazy to chase down the lyrics. I'll go to Google and fix that and then join in the listening session.
The poetry [Le Visage nuptial, set by Boulez in a cantata by the same title] is by René Char, and it is very beautiful, but also very hard to understand in a rational sense. Its meaning must be chased by the imagination; the rational part of the mind just gets lost.
 

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Lots of Pierre Boulez today composer/conductor by Manxfeeder, Knorpf, San Antone, Haziz, etc.

Is today Boulez' birthday or something?
Pierre Boulez's birthday is March 26, 1925. I think the confluence of so much listening to Boulez recently is probably in part in a reaction to the brutal hammering he's been taking in thread about him elsewhere, and a couple of other theads as well that appear to be nothing more that hate-fests for people who hate post-tonal music. Haters gonna hate, I suppose. But what always surprises me is that they appear to be unwilling to acknowledge that, actually, a lot of people really do admire this music.

Speaking of Le Visage nuptial, Ludovic Morlot was supposed to have performed (and maybe recorded?) it in late January this year, with the Orchestre de Paris. I was very keen to hear about this; I think Morlot is an ideal conductor of Boulez's music. Not the only one, of course, but I was quite happy with Morlot's recording with the Seattle Symphony of Boulez's Notations for orchestra. Maybe we'll get lucky and it will be rescheduled.

Morlot isn't the only excellent living Boulez conductor, of course. David Robertson, Daniel Barenboim, Pascal Gallois, and Susanna Mälkki, among others, have all also given terrific performances of this music.

Speaking of which, current listening:

Pierre Boulez: Notations for orchestra (in the order I, III, IV, VII, II)
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki

Superb!

 

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You're all tempting me to jump into the Stravinsky listening party! But now:

Elliott Carter: Quintet for Piano and Winds
András Schiff, piano; Felix Renggli, flute; Heinz Holliger, oboe; Elmar Schmid, clarinet; Radovan Vlatković, horn; Klaus Thunemann, bassoon

Still working on wrapping my brain around this. But it's fun, especially with such a stellar performance.

 

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Luciano Berio (1925-2003) - Coro for forty voices & instruments (1977)
Cologne Radio Chorus, Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. DG

This astounding composition is my numero uno of all the great maestro's works, even above 'Sinfonia'.
Oh my, yes. It's amazing!

There are three other recordings of Coro out there, as far as I know, on Col Legno (Bavarian Radio/Lucas Vis), Bis (Norwegian Radio/Grete Pederson), and Orfeo (ORF Vienna/Leif Segerstam). Of these, I only know the Col Legno recording, although I've been very curious about the other two. Anyway, the DG recording you have with Berio conducting would remain my preference between the two I know.
 

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Bruckner, Symphony No. 4

Klemperer with the Kolner Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester from 1954 on the Europa Musica label.

So far, listening to the first movement, this is way too fast. How many times can you say that about Klemperer?
His live Concertgebouworkest radio recording from a bit earlier than that is similar: faster tempi everywhere than what we're presently accustomed to. It took me a little adjusting, but I came to really respond to what I now feel is a powerful concept for the piece.
 

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Igor Stravinsky: Petrushka, Le Sacre du printemps
Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky

Joining the Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky party! I'm not hugely enamored of this Le Sacre, but this might still be my all-time favorite Petrushka.

ETA: The fork was I saying? I no longer agree with myself. This is a great Rite of Spring!

 
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