Vivat Boulez

by Sedgwick Clark

It’s not often that one can gratefully quote British musical mudslinger (or “gadfly,” depending upon your point of view) Norman Lebrecht. But his report on Sunday (8/26, Arts Journal) that Pierre Boulez had begun rehearsals in Lucerne months after “an eye operation that went wrong” was the best news I’ve heard all year. Boulez had cancelled concerts in Chicago and Cleveland last season due to failing eyesight, and fear among friends and followers was that he would never conduct again because of his invariable use of a score. (He told me in an interview that he never fails to learn new insights from the score during performance.) Lebrecht publishes a photo of the French maestro congratulating Franz Welser-Möst after a Cleveland Orchestra concert in Lucerne on Sunday, commenting that “he looked tanned, relaxed, happy, and far younger than his 87 years.” Vivat!

A Reader Responds

I often wonder, especially when faced by a deadline, who reads this stuff? Snail mail resoundingly replied on Tuesday (8/28) with a new CD from ECM’s Tina Pelikan, who had read my favorable review last week of Louis Langrée’s Mostly Mozart performances of Lutosławski’s Musique funèbre and Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto. She kindly sent me Dennis Russell Davies’s Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra recordings of the Lutosławski work and Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, Divertimento, and Seven Songs, featuring the Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir in the songs (ECM 2169). Davies’s softer textures contrast markedly with Langrée’s slashing attacks; in fact, with the Frenchman’s interpretation so vividly in mind, I barely recognized Luti’s Funeral Music. There being no such thing as a “definitive” performance, I’m happy to have heard both.

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