Where Credit is Due

I've criticized New York Times music critic Bernard Holland before for, among other things, being dismissive of new pieces without giving us enough about the music to know how seriously to take his dismissal, as well as occasional glibness, but his review of a Chicago Symphony concert conducted by Pierre Boulez includes this telling insight:

Mr. Boulez, now well into his 80s, commands by getting things right. I don’t think I have ever heard the “Petrouchka” played so vividly yet so precisely. He is not the inspirational conductor exhorting players to great things, but rather a man so in control of every detail, and so reliable in matters of gesture at critical junctures, that players enjoy a confidence that lets them be themselves.

That's a formula for exciting music-making.

I would like to have more details on the Quatre dédicaces of Luciano Berio than Mr. Holland gives--"short and intense, punctuated by sudden explosions and great splashes of color". Happily, blogger Bruce Hodges provides a little more:

. . . four miniatures written between 1978 and 1989, for orchestras in San Francisco, Dallas and Rotterdam. This performance (and the ones in Chicago) are the first time they have been performed as a set. All four are extroverted, brilliantly written squibs that show off what a large orchestra can do.

Mr. Hodges concludes with a wish for a recording of Quatre dédicaces from M. Boulez and the CSO sooner rather than later. Add it to the list!


  1. Anonymous2:13 PM

    Thanks for the mention, Steve. I'll have somewhat more detailed comments on the Berio in a longer review for MusicWeb soon.

    PS, at only 12 minutes, the set could have been reprised, maybe to begin the second half. The optimistic side of me wonders how many in the audience would have applauded that!

  2. You're welcome, Bruce.

    I heard the LA Phil play the Webern op. 10 Orchestra Pieces many years ago in Iowa. The audience responded very well to the repetition of the pieces to start the second half.

    I'll look forward to your review.