Pierre Boulez: Schoenberg, Berio, Carter, Kurtág, Xenakis (5 CD, FLAC)
Pierre Boulez: Schoenberg, Berio, Carter, Kurtág, Xenakis (5 CD, FLAC)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 5
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Erato
Size: 1.1 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

CD1 – Arnold Schoenberg
01. Pelleas und Melisande Op.5
Symphonic poem after Maurice Maeterlinck

02. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Introduction
03. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Theme
04. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation I
05. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation II
06. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation III
07. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation IV
08. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation V
09. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation VI
10. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation VII
11. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation VIII
12. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Variation IX
13. Variations for Orchestra Op.31 – Finale
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Pierre Boulez, conductor

CD2 – Luciano Berio
01. Sinfonia (for 8 voices and orchestra) I
02. Sinfonia (for 8 voices and orchestra) II – O King
03. Sinfonia (for 8 voices and orchestra) III – In ruhig fließender Bewegung
04. Sinfonia (for 8 voices and orchestra) IV
05. Sinfonia (for 8 voices and orchestra) V
Régis Pasquier, violin
New Swingle Singers
(Conductor: Ward Swingle)

06. Eindrücke
Orchestre National de France
Pierre Boulez, conductor

CD3 – Elliott Carter
01. Concerto for Oboe (1986-1987)
Dedicated to Paul Sacher,
world premiere: Zurich, 17.06.1988
Heinz Holliger, oboe

02. Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux (1985)
Dedicated to Pierre Boulez,
world premiere: Baden-Baden, 31.03.1985
Sophie Cherrier, flute
André Trouttet, clarinet

03. A Mirror on Which to Dwell (1975) – 1. Anaphora
04. A Mirror on Which to Dwell (1975) – 2. Argument
05. A Mirror on Which to Dwell (1975) – 3. Sandpiper
06. A Mirror on Which to Dwell (1975) – 4. Insomnia
07. A Mirror on Which to Dwell (1975) – 5. View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress
08. A Mirror on Which to Dwell (1975) – 6. O Breath
Six poems by Elisabeth Bishop,
for soprano and chamber orchestra,
world premiere: Hunter College Playhouse, New-York, 1976
Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano

09. Penthode (1984-1985)
for 5 instrumental groups,
dedicated to Ensemble Intercontemporain and Pierre Boulez,
world premiere: Royal Albert Hall, London, 26.07.1985
Ensemble InterContemporain
Pierre Boulez

CD4 – György Kurtág, Harrison Birtwistle, Gérard Grisey
01. György Kurtág / Messages de Feu Demoiselle R. V. Troussova (1976-1980)
21 poems by Rimma Dalos, op. 17, for soprano and chamber ensemble,
sung in the original Russian,
world premiere: 14.01.1981, Palais des Arts, Paris
Adrienne Csengery, soprano
Marta Fabian, cymbalum

02. Harrison Birtwistle / …AGM…
for 16 voices and 3 instrumental groups,
dedicated to Nicholas Snowman,
world premiere: 09.04.1979, Théâtre de la Ville, Paris
Chœur John Alldis

03. Gérard Grisey / Modulations (1978)
for 33 musicians,
world premiere: 09.03.1978, Théâtre de la Ville, Paris
Ensemble InterContemporain,
Pierre Boulez, conductor

CD5 – Iannis Xenakis, Hugues Dufourt, Brian Ferneyhough
01. Iannis Xenakis / Jalons (1986)
Dedicated to Ensemble Intercontemporain and Pierre Boulez,
world premiere: 26.01.1987, Théâtre de la Ville, Paris

02. Hugues Dufourt / Antiphusis (1978)
for leading flute and chamber orchestra,
world premiere: 07.07.1978, Rencontres Internationales d’Art contemporain, La Rochelle
Istvan Matuz, flute

03. Brian Ferneyhough / Funérailles: Version I (1977)
world premiere: July 1977

04. Brian Ferneyhough / Funérailles: Version II (1980)
world premiere: June 29th, 1980
Ensemble Intercontemporain
Pierre Boulez, conductor

powerful showcase of the last century

I concur this is the only place to find these masterworks, not all but the Carter pieces,Penthode I know of no other recording. This is a marvelously opaque like work, somewhat dry, Carter’s penchant utilization of a rhythmic cell passed around the rather dry sounding ensemble. Especially exciting here is Antiphysis by Hughes Dufourt,a French composer philosopher who is quite outspoken on carrying the torch of European post serial modernity. This work is a veiled flute concerto,largely in two seamless movements where the soloist is simply part of the forever trmoili textures the first half of the work, blizzards of flute tones are conveyed,large doses of fluttertonguing,fast filigreed moments. At times the chamber ensemble seems to engulf powerfully the soloist knocking it out of commission and at times Dufourt with incredible surges of timbre. This is a surface piece of incredible power, long stridently sustained chords, like the internal tension of a suspension bridge, You are waiting for something to snap, it doesn’t. The percussion moments in this work as well create great waves and impeccably controlled thunderous roars to stop on a dime. You would never know this piece is actually a miniature flute concerto. The flute lines tossed into all registers with colourful again fluttertonguing, wisps and long scale-like lines. Dufourt is not a prolific composer.So this is a rare treat.
Boulez’s residencies with The Chicago Symphony over the past ten years has produced a few profound gems from the Post Romantic world,one not entirely his, and Schoenberg’s tone poem ‘Pelleus und Melisande’ in one of them.This is an early post Wagnerian score double the legth of his equally successful ‘Transfigured Night’.Unless you know the motives Herr Schoenberg had utilized from the original Maeterlinck play,the work engulfs one as one colossol tone poem/commentary on the wanderings and below the surface anxieties of the union of this pair of lovers,who never quite get it.Schoenberg as Debussy had visions of the darkest moments of the Maeterlinck with rounded timbral orchestrations. Boulez holds a taut reins here and controls this arduously long work with great vision. It’s dark colours and thick textures are all balanced properly. You never sense the works length,it moves,lumbers into its moments quite well and when it hunkers down finally on an old fashion minor chord it is arresting.Chicago plays this music as no other,music written for them, with there overdosed,overexposed repertoire of post Romantics from the Solti Years. They put this expereince to its test in the ‘Orchestral Variations’ also of Schoenberg, a much later work from his brief year spent in Berlin in 1930, a time when he had full confidence in his visions for the dodecaphonic language. Boulez also enjoys this work with a full spectrum of shapes to lend direction from chamber like moments of some of the variations to discreet solos and duets emanating from the orchestral forces to full bodied statements. This is quite an achievement for this newly found language. But you can see Schoenberg moving into these untenable,new regions. For the isolated sense of expressionist colour seems to have been forsakened here,abandoned for a larger homogeneous one. If you know his ‘Five Pieces for Orchestra’,you sense an entire universe of difference.As if Wagner now has returned to haunt him. The Ensemble Intercontemporain bring a real sense of immediacy to the Ferneyhough, ‘Funerailles’,a score scaled down to 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cellos, Doublebass and Harp.It’s in the same gestural habitation of the Dufourt, large textural plains,regions of tremoli,punctuated freely.You may not recognize Ferneyhough here this is an early work with large gestures,not the finely attenuated approach to structuring and shaping timbres as you might find for instance in his ‘Etudes Trancendental’ or the string quartets. Without the Harp here to punctuate the one-dimensional string timbre produced here this work would indeed have been tedious and bland. The right amount of penetrating timbre is here to give the work the thornyness it deserves.If you are a Xenakis fan then his Jalons (steps) here is for you. This is music about the density and timbre transformations. Almost like standing in front of an industrial contraption waiting for it to turn off or break down or heat up.Blast furnace like timbres and strident whistles are here.


  1. Boulez is just amazing directing Modern and Contemporary Music.

    Thank you for this Set!

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