Visiting Orchestras

SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden Baden und Freiburg / Susanna Mälkki          

Pierre Boulez & René Char I

Past Dates

A programme of this kind could hardly be in better hands. All of the artists – soloists as well as ensemble members – have grown up with new music. They move about in it as in their mother tongues – or more precisely: as though in a communicating network of languages. They have performed these works frequently, and have often studied them anew, and are therefore in secure possession of what one might call interpretive freedom. They live from the knowledge that every fresh encounter with a work expands its horizon of possibilities. Audible in their interpretations is a distinct awareness of the inner richness contained in each composition.

Among the pocket study scores available to serious students of music is a treasure: Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto with a foreword by Pierre Boulez. This text says much about his comprehension of music. Boulez elucidates the constructive marvels contained in Berg’s composition. But beyond this, he calls attention to that which they engender. He compares the tone – sounded 12 times after a long pause by the piano at the work’s centre – to the tolling of a clock at midnight. From this point, the piece now runs backward, with certain modifications. From deepest night, so to speak, it now follows the same course back into the light of day.

Like Berg, Boulez composes with the meticulousness of a poet. Each word, each tone must sit just right. In such poetry, nothing superfluous is permissible. The constructive consciousness generates the inner consistency through which the work convinces – in short: its expressivity. In René Char, one of his favorite poets, Boulez admires “the capacity to focus his entire world into a terse expression, and to then send out its radiance and its reflections to great distances.” With this characterization, he describes himself.

Concert Programme

Pierre Boulez [born 1925]
Le Soleil des eaux
Text by René Char
Version for soprano, four voice mixed choir and orchestra [1948-65]
I: Complainte du lézard amoureux – II: La Sorgue. Chanson pour Yvonne

Alban Berg [1885–1935]
for piano and violin with 13 winds [1923–25]

Pierre Boulez
Première Sonate
for piano [1946]

Pierre Boulez
Le Visage nuptial
Text by René Char
Version for soprano, mezzo soprano, female choir and orchestra [1946-89]
I: Conduite – II: Gravité. L’emmur – III: Le Visage nuptial – IV: Évadné – V: Post-Scriptum