Ensemble intercontemporain with Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble / Pierre Boulez / Barbara Hannigan - Royal Festival Hall, 2 October 2011
Pierre Boulez has conducted operas, amongst them several landmark performances, though he’s famously never written one himself. But Pli selon pli suggests he has all the technical equipment. His settings of five Mallarmé poems are alert to text in every way. Structure, syntax and the very sound of the words are reflected as unerringly as their meaning. Between the sledgehammer chords that open and close the hour long work, a ravishing parade of shimmering strings, chinking xylophones and silky winds belie a reputation for ugliness that Boulez picked up over sixty years ago and has never quite managed to shake off.