Put one of the world's greatest orchestras in the hands of one of the
foremost specialists of 20th-century music, add a soloist who is one of
today's leading pianists and conductors, and you are assured of a concert
of superlatives that pays glowing tribute to three major works of the past
century. The official Salzburg Festival opening concert of the Wiener
Philharmoniker is conducted by Pierre Boulez, once the "enfant terrible"
of the musical world, now a sensitive, analytical conductor of works from
the 19th and 20th centuries (including the Centennial Ring from Bayreuth,
available from UNITEL CLASSICA).
Combining Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 1 - Daniel Barenboim is the
soloist - with Maurice Ravel's "Valses nobles et sentimentales" and Igor
Stravinsky's "Firebird" ballet in its full-length version of 1910, Boulez
weaves a compelling musical texture that uncovers the links among the
three works and the three composers. The concert begins with a shimmering
rendition of the "Valses nobles et sentimentales," an homage to Schubert
and a farewell to the waltz itself. This work of bold dissonances,
abrasive harmonies and colorful chromaticism is followed by Bartók's
concerto of 1926, which seems to animate Ravel's tonal language with a
The nearly 50-minute long "Firebird," which a virtually unknown
28-year-old Stravinsky wrote for the Ballets Russes in 1910, also seems to
have been inspired by Ravel's harmonic language, while anticipating
Bartók's wild accents and syncopations. "Boulez at his most responsive and
insightful in all three works. And a grandiose orchestra - the Wiener
Philharmoniker in top form" (Kurier).