L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France – cond. by Pierre Boulez – November 9, 2005 – Radio France Musique –
We’re back to Paris this week and this time it’s something historic; it’s a concert from 2005, featuring L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France led by Pierre Boulez in familiar works. Starting with Ravel‘s Ma Mère L’Oye (Mother Goose), Claude Debussy‘s Nocturnes and finishing with Stravinsky‘s Firebird Suite. All familiar works, but all associated with memorable performances by Pierre Boulez.
Pierre Boulez was a leading figure in avant-garde music, playing an important role in the development of integral serialism (in the 1950s), controlled chance music (in the 1960s) and the electronic transformation of instrumental music in real time (from the 1970s onwards). His tendency to revise earlier compositions meant that his body of work was relatively small, but it included pieces regarded by many as landmarks of twentieth-century music, such as Le Marteau sans maître, Pli selon pli and Répons. His uncompromising commitment to modernism and the trenchant, polemical tone in which he expressed his views on music led some to criticize him as a dogmatist.
Alongside his activities as a composer, Boulez was one of the most prominent conductors of his generation. In a career lasting more than sixty years, he was music director of the New York Philharmonic and the Ensemble intercontemporain, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra. He made frequent appearances with many other orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. He was known for his performances of the music of the first half of the twentieth century—including Debussy and Ravel, Stravinsky and Bartók, and the Second Viennese School—as well as that of his contemporaries, such as Ligeti, Berio and Carter. His work in the opera house included the Jahrhundertring—the production of Wagner’s Ring cycle for the centenary of the Bayreuth Festival—and the world premiere of the three-act version of Alban Berg’s Lulu. His recorded legacy is extensive.
He founded several musical institutions: the Domaine musical, Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique (IRCAM), Ensemble intercontemporain and Cité de la Musique in Paris, and the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland.
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