Self Present and Selves Past

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The blessings of the office speakers: Scott Andrews rehearsed Pierre Boulez’s Dialogue de l’ombre double (Dialogue of the Double Shadow), a piece for clarinet and live electronics, on the Powell Hall stage Friday afternoon. It’s a composition of sonic wonder. Andrews plays live along with recordings of himself. The recordings were made a few years ago, and are constant, but Andrews’ live musicianship is always changing. He told me it had the feeling of performing with past selves. His description made me think of Arthur Rimbaud’s famous phrase Je est un autre: “I is someone else.”

Principal Clarinet Scott Andrews
Principal Clarinet Scott Andrews

But for all that Dialogue of the Double Shadow may make you and I think, or marvel at the technosound strategies, it is the magic and mystery it leaves behind when it is done that is most compelling. A haunting. These sounds you’ve heard–you will never hear them again.

Pierre Boulez

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A giant has departed. You have heard and read, and undoubtedly will hear and read more, about the musical genius Pierre Boulez, who died Tuesday at age 90 at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany. It was not a shock, since many in the music world knew that he had been ailing. His influence has been enormous, on music itself and on those individuals who make it. One of those is David Robertson, who for several years was music director of Paris’ Ensemble Intercontemporain, a group that continues to explore the boundaries of sound and music making, which Boulez founded.

Pierre Boulez, 1968
Pierre Boulez, 1968

Robertson shared these words about his mentor and friend: “Pierre Boulez was creative in the deepest sense of the word. His genius touched and continues to inspire a huge number of people. His engagement with the world of music altered its course. He is a singularity. His legacy will resonate through time.”

Robertson may be heard talking about Boulez during NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesday.