As a music major in college, and again in grad school, we spent a fair amount of time talking about Pierre Boulez. An important 20th century composer and a tireless advocate for modern music. Since 1995, he has been Conductor Emeritus for the Chicago Symphony. I’ve lived in the Chicago area since 1999 and have always meant to go see him – he usually conducts a few times each year.
I got a bit of a wakeup call this past fall when the CSO announced that Boulez was doing a series of concerts in January to celebrate his 85th birthday (incidentally, I’m strongly of the opinion that no one should work on his or her birthday, especially his or her 85th). I mean, I hate to be crass, but the guy’s 85 – I better get to it. And I really have no excuse – I’ve worked within walking distance of Symphony Hall for almost 10 years.
So yesterday, I took the afternoon off and went to the CSO’s matinee performance. Program information here. The Bartok concerto was fiery – almost bombastic – and the sound of two pianos (and a whole mess of percussion) at the hand of a Hungarian truly cannot be described. Reminded me of a dear Hungarian colleague in grad school who once inspired, could talk for hours about Kodaly and Bartok. I’m pretty sure he circular-breathed, but only when talking about Hungarian composers. Zsolt, if you’re reading this – you would have really enjoyed this concert, and I really miss our conversations! Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite comprised the entire second half of the program, and it was an exhilarating crescendo from the opening to the (forgive me) fiery close. I hope to have half this guy’s energy when I reach half his age.
In stark defiance of the CSO’s strict policy against audio, video or still photography in the hall, I managed to snap a picture as the last note of the concert still hung in the hall (there should be a name for that wonderful moment between the dramatic end of a concert and the beginning of the applause!).
What a magical afternoon – thanks, Maestro Boulez.