Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / David Robertson
Significantly, Boulez stands at the centre. His music embodies figures of thought used by the two other composers. Double refers to an early form of the variation, to the mutation and modification of a musical idea. Like Bartók in his Divertimento, Boulez takes up an earlier compositional practice, redefining it as always. Remaining is the idea of material transformation. Boulez allows the process to run along labyrinthine paths. This is also manifested in the seating arrangement, which groups the orchestra very differently than usual. Emerging from this labyrinth are leaping, vertiginous movements of singular fascination.
That the orchestra itself becomes an instrument for showcasing sonorities corresponds to the French tradition at its best; Berlioz was one exponent, Ravel – with his unsurpassable command of instrumentation – another. This approach emerges from the sustained interest in unheard-of sonic imagery. “Such new works can have ancient provenances, or can be related to geographically distant cultures.” For the late antique legend of Daphnis and Chloé, both are true. “But for Ravel, the charm contained in it is palpable, and he made it fruitful … Today,” wrote H. H. Stuckenschmidt in 1966, “we know that his compositions, especially the orchestral ones, have many affinities with non-European music.” A direct line connects Ravel’s feel for sonority, his exploratory attitude, and his curiosity about the musically foreign, to Pierre Boulez.