Boulez conducts Bach

Boulez conducts Bach


norman lebrecht

January 09, 2016

A rare and altogether extraordinary venture by the French modernist into the strict classicism of C P E Bach. Recorded in Spain in 1979 with Jean-Pierre Rampal, who is made to go much faster than he might have liked in the scurrying finale.

boulez bach rampal


  • Gerard says:

    My God, how Rampal do that, amazing…!

  • Gerard says:

    does that

  • Eddie Mars says:

    Appalling and unmusical.

    • John says:

      We get it: you have something against Boulez. You have already been lambasted for your comments on the day of his death. Now grow up and try and contribute to the website, Edward.

      • Eddie Mars says:

        Try listening to the music? The last movement, in this shameful train-wreck “performance”? Oh no, I forgot, you never bother with music. You’re only here to abuse other members, like the troll you are.

        • John says:

          As many others have said here, there is nothing unusually fast about the final movement. Some think it works well, others do not. Only you call it ‘appalling and unmusical’ simply because you have something against Boulez, as we all saw from your comments earlier this week.

          Why do you not try and put your prejudices to one side?

          • Eddie Mars says:

            [[ Why do you not try and put your prejudices to one side? ]]

            Because I’ve got EARS, and this performance is a travesty that fails to serve either the music or the composer.

          • John says:

            Almost everyone has ears.

            You are in a small minority here, Edward. You are entitled to claim the speed does not work, but you must realise your opinion is not the only valid one. Others, including Mr Boulez, who was a greater musician than you will ever be, think differently.

          • Eddie Mars says:

            You are entitled to your opinion. I’m entitled to mine.

            What you’re not entitled to, John, is the stream of gutless ad-hominem jibes – which reduce your witless contributions to these boards to a parody of Beavis and Butthead.

          • John says:

            Yes, we are entitled to have different opinions. That is what I wrote above.

            You have made ‘gutless ad-hominem jibes’ against Boulez since you found out he died. You have been criticised for these comments, and rightly so.

            Something that does damage the boards are your hysterics over opinions you do not like, whether musical or non-musical. Also, your strange obsession with George Osborne.

          • Eddie Mars says:

            [[ Almost everyone has ears. ]]

            Except you.

          • John says:

            Again, a silly ad hominem attack. Why are you unable to focus on the music?

      • Stereo says:

        If memory serves me correctly Boulez at one time was dead against the symphony orchestra all for it’s demise but he ended up making most of his money conducting many of them. How two faced is that?

  • Nicola Lefanu says:

    ==made to go much faster than [J-PR] might have liked

    Surely this is speculation ? Perhaps it’s faster than Boulez might have liked

  • Gerhard says:

    Quite interesting that Boulez/Rampal’s tempi are not that much different from the ones chosen a quarter of a century later by Mai/Huntgeburth
    Goes to show IMHO that Boulez had an extreme ability to find convincing tempi, even in a repertoire that was certainly by far not his main domaine. Yet the overall musical impression is entirely different, mostly due to a completely different approach towards articulation, phrasing, and the role of the meter. Anyway, I have trouble understanding why one would find anything extraordinary or unusual with the tempo of the third movement.

    • Dan P. says:

      Why are we assuming that the tempo is Boulez’ choice? Typically, it’s the soloist who gets to chose the tempo in a concerto and has the last say in the matter.

      • Gerhard says:

        You are certainly right to stress that it is always some sort of agreement between soloist and conductor. But I have heard of more than one instance where a soloist walked out because he or she couldn’t agree with the conductor, but not about a single one where the same happened the other way round. This leads me to believe that M. Boulez was not without influence on the choice of tempi here.

  • Milka says:

    What a marvelous performance, the tempo is just what the music demands.
    One may note that those without imagination will object to the tempo but if they
    took time to look at the score no other tempo would do . It is a bravura work .

    • Eddie Mars says:

      And what would *you* gain from reading the score – since you cannot read a note?

      • Hilary says:

        The tempo feels right to me. Palpable sense of excitement here, and suits the sometimes eccentric nature of the composer.
        If I were pick an instance where Boulez miscalculated tempi, it would be the leaden performance of Chronochomie on DG. A cursory comparison with the wonderful Dorati recording is instructive.

  • Wolfgang says:

    The recording date you indicate is incorrect: actually the recording was first issued in 1964 and most probably produced even earlier. Interestingly enough, Rampal was the first dedicatee of Boulez’ Sonatine for flute, but would (or could) not perform it. Boulez then rededicated it. Boulez and Rampal knew each other from their conservatory days, and I suppose Boulez took part in this session as a conductor as a favor to an old friend.

  • Janet says:

    I agree with Milka – an outstanding performance overall, no flutist (in my humble opinion) has yet to “out-do” Rampal in technique. He frequently pushed tempi as fast as possible, just because he could. Some may consider it an unmusical performance, others feel it perfectly captures the style and virtuosity required, con fuoco!

    • MacroV says:

      It’s very impressive, and no knock on Rampal, but the standard of play on virtually every instrument has advanced so much in the last 50 years that any number of flutists can probably play it this well today. Perhaps inspired by him, even.

      • Gerhard says:

        Completely true. And if anyone cares to listen to the recording I linked above, you can hear for yourself that the same goes for players of historical instruments.

  • Mike J says:

    Who cares. CPE Bach would have loved it.

  • Robert says:

    Is this one of those flute things written for Frederick the Great?

    He must have had some chops.