Pierre Boulez © www.lukasbeck.com (Ausschnitt)
«You also have to dream your revolution, not just build it,» Pierre Boulez once said. Sense and sensuousness are what characterise the music of this rebellious poet, who died in 2016. The Wiener Konzerthaus is paying homage to this eminence grise of the avantgarde in its 2016/17 season with concerts of almost all of the works that he regarded as sufficiently finished or ready to perform, in performances by friends and colleagues such as Daniel Barenboim, Pierre-Laurent Aimard or the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as by a younger generation of artists.
The surrealist poet André Breton once wrote that «convulsive beauty will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive, magic-circumstantial, or it will not be.» But these expressive juxtapositions can be used to describe the whole of Pierre Boulez' oeuvre, not just his «... explosante-fixe ...», a work of sonic exploration in which ensemble and electronics weave delicate shades around the arabesques of a trio of flutes. The Klangforum Wien brings this enigmatically glittering music to life in one out of a total 16 concerts during the season which will either be dedicated to Boulez' works alone or will examine his relationship to the past and to the present, which will explore his relationship to poetry and provide a sweeping catalogue of his audacious achievements.
The arch stretches from Boulez' works for piano, which are being performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich, and his early chamber music, to pieces written for live electronics and the grandly conceived soundscapes of pieces such as «Rituel». The programmes will also include Boulez' iridescent vocal works, such as «cummings ist der dichter», a product of the creative shock Pierre Boulez felt after encountering John Cage and his aleatoric music, or «Le visage nuptial».
Of iconic importance in an oeuvre that is simultaneously concise and comprehensive are not only the expressive adornments of «Le Marteau sans maître» based on a text by René Chars which made Boulez famous overnight in 1955, but the «Notations» written 10 years earlier and which have come to exemplify Boulez’ method of composition. Originally conceived as 12 twelve-tone pieces for piano each made up of 12 bars, some of them have been expanded in subsequent years and decades into vast, sprawling orchestral works. Indeed, while Pierre Boulez repeatedly worked and reworked many of his compositions until he was satisfied with them, or left them unfinished, in other works he was able to realise his artistic vision immediately at a single stroke. Taken together, all of these pieces make up a fascinating portrait: of Pierre Boulez, a contemporary classic.