Daniel Barenboim at the Proms

Over the past two weeks or so, Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra have performed all of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, interleaving these works with music by Pierre Boulez. The performances have been particularly well-received, with many commentators drawing attention to Barenboim’s uncommon mastery with the scores and sympathy with his musicians. The Guardian’s reviews give a decent overview of the cycle. Fiona Maddocks, in the Observer, highlights an interesting aspect of the unification of Beethoven and Boulez:

Boulez’s (Derive 2), full of snatches of melody and flutters and ripples of sound, seethes with detail, lush with vibraphone, harp and piano, though the whole remains elusive. It acted, surprisingly, as a bridge between the light, maverick textures of Beethoven’s First and the more radical ambitions of the Second. Chronology of composition has nothing to do with it. Aural illumination is what counts.

Published on 31 July 2012

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