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Posted October 1, 2010
Boulez Scores Big!
This is the introduction to Pierre Boulez's 1998 Grammy-winning Mahler symphony cycle. I have listened carefully to this and other Boulez recordings, and I hear the workings of a true musical mastermind. The opening movement evokes the innocence of spring morning, with cuckoo calls and gentle horn calls. It begins mysteriously soft before it ends with the glorious triumph of the horn fanfare and full orchestra finale. The second movement brings to mind noble aristocracy and the joy of our existence here. Again, the horns use high-octane playing to create clamor. The third movement is a dark paraphrase of Frere Jacques. Its brooding cynicism stuns the listener. It brings to mind Jewish melodies at times. The fourth movement begins with terrible dissonance and calls to mind the horrors of a Nazi death march from World War II. Mahler could not have asked for a better reading.
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