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Pierre Boulez Celebrated at the Berlin State Opera
On Easter Sunday (April 4th 2010), the Berlin State Opera hosted a concert on behalf of composer Pierre Boulez, who celebrated his 85th birthday on the 26th of March 2010. The poster for the event showed three works belonging to different stages of his creation, works which were played under the baton of Daniel Barenboim and the composer's.
First in the programme was Messageesquisse for solo cello accompanied by six other cellos, a piece which was written for conductor Paul Sacher's 70th anniversary, as his name is encrypted in the six-sound motive generator of the entire play. The piece, written in the '70s, loosened from the strictness of Boulez's serialism during the '50s into a more open and direct approach to music. Having Daniel Barenboim as conductor, it contributed to the success of the performance, which brought agogic and dynamic contrasts, perpetual motion and sound spacialisation through six cellos. These were meant to accompany the solo cello, played by Hassan Moataz El Molla.
Anthemes 2 (1997) for solo violin and live electronics was the example of a successful combination between traditional instrumental sound and electronic procedures. Michael Barenboim's performance, with the help of the IRCAM Institute in Paris, founded by Boulez, managed to stand out through clearly defined melodic structures, and the echo produced by the tape, which led to the desired effect of spacialisation.
At the end, Pierre Boulez, who was present during the entire concert, took the stage in order to conduct Le Marteau sans Maitre, the musical piece that brought him fame in the '50s. By using three of René Char's surreal poems and serialism in all musical parameters, the composition revolutionised all orchestra conventions by making use of two atypical instrumental groups: the quartet including alto flute, violin, guitar, and alto voice, and the group including percussion instruments. We had the opportunity to listen to alto Hilary Summers' great performance, whose ambitus, perfect intonation and sensibility, ideally cooperated with Pierre Boulez's performance directions.
The public's entire attention was focused on the conductor's precise gestures and the musicians' experience when performing tense and relaxed moments, when building up musical forms or instrumentalising the voice at the end.
However, the event cannot be considered unique, as another anniversary concert will take place in September 2010 during Berlin Music Days, were, once more, we will be able to admire the French composer's music and personality.
Translated by Andra Stroe,
MA student, MTTLC, Bucharest University