Saturday, January 09, 2016

Avant to Live

Hello and welcome to the first of two weekend posts in honor of two legends who left us this past week.
First on the memorial parade we have likely the premier conductor of orchestras of our lifetimes, and perhaps ever. To say that today's honoree, who passed away Tuesday at 90, spent a lifetime at the outer reaches of Art would be a grandiose understatement.
The name Pierre Boulez is synonymous with the utmost in musical adventurism. Likely the foremost champion of 20th Century Classical music -- from Ives to Stravinsky to Webern -- of our age, if you had a dollar for every Rite of Spring he conducted, you'd be able to purchase the whole Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and have enough left over for a down payment on the Louvre.
I feel lucky to have seen him wield his baton once -- OK, his hands... he rarely used the conventional baton -- in NYC for a performance of Stravinsky's Petrushka way back in the day. It was like seeing a full-on Rock star, like the David Bowie of the Classical world. I wonder if he ever conducted any of those Philip Glass symphonies based on Low and "Heroes," hmmmm.
I was thinking, how many times and for how many great works did this guy step up to the lectern? The list must be endless. He started in the 1940s and up until eye issues and a shoulder injury sidelined him a couple of years ago, he was still doing it at the supreme level he always had. And here you were, basking in the accomplishment of vacuuming the living room and thinking you had skills.
I spent much of the week collating a bunch of the cool stuff with Boulez in charge of the ensemble that got posted in various locations after he left us, and I came up with a pretty nifty six hours of unreleased music of all varieties, ranging from solo piano serialistic voyages originating in the Forties to a few thoroughly awesome jams by our old pal, the aforementioned Mr. Igor Stravinsky. 
Most of it is from 21st Century rebroadcasts on the epic France Musique radio station, so it's top notch in terms of sound. All the notes below are of the original seeder, so thanks to him... these were all taped by one person in Europe over the last 40 years, mostly after 2003.
Pierre Boulez
unissued broadcasts, 1945-85
 1. The Lost Works

01 Oubli signal lapidé (I - Séquence) pour 12 voix mixtes
02 Trois psalmodies pour piano
03 Notations 7, 4, & 9 pour piano
04 Premier mouvement de sonate     [Sonata n°1, prototype]
05 Sonate n° 2 pour piano [excerpt from movement IV]
06 Symphonie mécanique, pour bande magnétique

Total time: 44:00

Track 01: Köln, Germany  10.3.1952
Ensemble vocal de Marcel Couraud
[Claudie Lorena (soprano), Antoinette Laby (soprano), Jacqueline Henry (soprano), Alice Boyer (alto), Hélène Brunet (alto), Suzanne Tan (alto), Pierre Maurin (ténor), Jacques Husson (ténor), Roger List (tenor), André Robin (bass), Jacques Hochard (bass), Pierre Hasquenoph (bass)]

Tracks 02-03: Paris, France  2.12.1945
Yvette Grimaud (piano)

Track 04: Paris, France  6.10.1947 
Yvette Grimaud (piano)

Track 05: Paris, France  c.1952
Yvonne Loriod (piano)

Track 06: work for magnetic tap; soundtrack for Jean Mitry's film, 1955

01 L'Orestie [excerpt from I - Agamemnon)

Total time: 42:13

Track 01: Bordeaux, France  5.26.1955
music directed by Pierre Boulez
ensemble Compagnie Renaud-Barrault
Jean-Louis Barrault: Oreste
Marie Bell: Clytemnestre
Nathalie Nerval: Electre
William Sabatier: Egisthe
Marcel Tristani: Pilade

digital captures of analog France Musique FM broadcasts, March 2015   

01-03 Le crépuscule de Yang Koueï Fei

Total time: 58:50

Tracks 01-03: Paris, France  7.1.1957
radio play by Louise Fauré
music directed by Pierre Boulez
Ginette Guillaumat (soprano)
Monique Bélinand: Yang Koueï Fei
Jean Yonnel: Emperor Ming Huang
Renaud Marie: Kao Li Sheu
Roger Blin: The Poet
Roger Carles: Dean of the Monks
Jean Martinelli: Chen Suan Li
Georges Lecomte - text
Alain Trutat - realisation

master cassette of an analog France Culture FM broadcast from June 2003

2. BBC Symphony Orchestra
unknown venue
probably London, UK

01 Le Soleil des Eaux

Total time: 7:53

The BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez

captured from a recent analog France Musique FM rebroadcast

3. Ensemble Instrumental du Domaine Musical
Michel Tabachnik
Simone Rist
Ruth Bezinian
unknown venue
Paris, France

01 Improvisation I sur Mallarmé  (5:05)
02 Improvisation II sur Mallarmé (9:17)
03 Eclat (7:40)
04 Le Marteau sans maître  (31:26)

Total time: 53:27

works of Pierre Boulez
performed by Ensemble Instrumental du Domaine Musical, conducted by Michel Tabachnik
Simone Rist - soprano
Ruth Bezinian - alto

compiled from various analog France Musique FM rebroadcasts, 2007-15

4. Three BBC Recordings
mid/late 1970s
venue unknown
possibly London, UK

01 ...explosante/fixe...
This is perhaps the most interesting of these recordings, as it represents a state of this long gestating/developing work that I don't believe I have ever seen recorded. This is pre-Ircam, and was using a device to achieve the electronic manipulations--mostly echo and panning effects--called a Haller-phone. I was present at rehearsals for this series of performances, and I can tell you that it was a very unreliable machine. Still, as a transitional stage in this work's development, of some interest to Boulez completists out there.

02 cummings ist der Dichter
Also dating from around this period, this is not the actual first performance, but close to it. So this is the "first" version, and corresponds to the first published score. I do remember that the chorus was the Scola Cantorum Stuttgart, conducted (in addition to Boulez conducting the orchestra, which how he did it then) by Clytus Gottwald.

03 Figures/Doubles/Prismes
Probably very close in time to the commercial recording, and much like it. But it does have the live quality of this work, which is very challenging to play, and not without little mishaps here and there that only add to the excitement.

Total time: 1:02:15

master reel recordings from France Musique FM radio in the 1970s

5. Orchestre National de France
Choeur de Radio France
Phyllis Bryn-Julson
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
Paris, France
01 Le Chant du Rossignol (1917)
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

02 Le Soleil des eaux (1948-65)*
Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)

03 Pélleas und Melisande, op.5 (1902-03)
Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951)

04 outro applause

Total time: 1:13:41

Orchestre National de France, Choeur de Radio France, conducted by Pierre Boulez
Phyllis Bryn-Julson - soprano*

digital capture of a memorial analog France Musique FM rebroacast, 1.6.2016

6. Ensemble InterContemporain
La Grange de Meslay Festival
Parçay-Meslay, France

01 Movements for Piano and Orchestra (Igor Stravinsky) [1959]
Sviatoslav Richter (piano)

Total time: 10:39

digital capture of an analog France Musique FM broadcast

all segments zipped together
I'll be back in 24 hours with another memorial to another heroic person with the initials P.B., but don't hesitate to pull this puppy down and spend your Saturday and beyond sampling its sumptuous variety of soprano songbirds and 12-tone serialism. And obviously there will never be another Pierre Boulez, who did more than maybe any figure in history to promote the vast array of incredible 20th Century composers we take for granted as integral parts of the pantheon today.--J.
3.26.1925 - 1.5.2016


  1. where can I get a download of this?

  2. Hi there,
    Any chance for a re-up of this? Some of those pieces sound fascinating!
    Thanks in advance,

  3. Thanks!! There are a handful of others - should I post requests on the individual pages?

    1. the Boulez link is live again for you sir, enjoy

      lemme know in the sidebox on the right of the page what else you'd like re-upped

  4. you just tell me in the sidebar, the chatbox, which ones

    someday all these links will be live and in one place

    1. Many thanks! I don't know why but I can't enter anything in the chatbox.

  5. Thanks, man, I really appreciate it. These would be them:


    You've got great taste in music, man, and some really incredible experiences seeing these people perform. I always felt I was born at the wrong time.

    Many thanks again!

    1. Imma get to these as fast as I can, watch this space

      here goes your Fellini:Satyricon link to Nino Rota:!b3gUQaBA!V0134Fp9etrqGqLw37SY7RsoQ4eBKIrEjYT7MqdUQg8

    2. here goes Alan Vega & Suicide!ajR0HCrA!tgmwTUvFzb940VveNojPOnjp8rsheWvTTDZop3PMT1Y

    3. here goes Paul Bley!f6gFjQqS!Lvb5GRsZYdjAai8fJU2GT74h93evjRRie8ZqDOXVDsM

    4. here is Santana!O6ZBTKTB!FK7FBqwU7IqVMVVCBo65-5lLKpNbiQD7ummURXgMZGw

    5. and here is Holger Czukay & Can!HyIE0SaI!-tjdazP-0bHVEwXz0Sz1EdC5Dgfu89-y5SdvqgWDeUY

      enjoy! and thanks for visiting my crazy page :)

  6. Grazi!

    "...explosante-fixe..." is the most interesting Boulez piece I've ever heard. From your description and these references, I have to think this recording is the BBC Prom from August 17, 1973.

  7. I really appreciate this post of your's. Thank you very much!