by Steven Pisano
(Photographs by Steven Pisano.)
Last week at National Sawdust a series of four concerts celebrated the 90th birthday (back in March) of French composer, conductor, and music writer Pierre Boulez, a greatly admired champion and practitioner of 12-tone and serialist composition. Pascal Gallois conducted the highly regarded International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), which recorded the concert for a future release.
The final concert of the series last Saturday began with “Polifonica-Monodica-Ritmica” by Luigi Nono, which despite my admitted antipathies towards serialist music, had an entertaining tension throughout. Mostly random percussion, even the silences had a well-measured tautness to them.
But while Nono kept me wondering what was coming next musically, Boulez’s “Eclat” and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Kontra-punkte,” which followed next on the program, made me wonder what I was eating for dinner. Pad Thai? Pizza? Pastitsio? My mind kept shamelessly wandering off to anywhere but focusing on the music. To my amateur ears, this music is strictly an acquired taste.