All posts by Thierry Vagne

Contemporary and classical music

Personal Journal 2024

Rather than creating a specific post each time, I use this page to publish my experiences or opinions (mostly web translation from French).

March 1st

I rarely go to the Philharmonie; they don’t invite bloggers, even for rehearsals and concerts of the EIC: there must be plenty of journalists covering contemporary music… Fortunately, my dear half gave me some tickets for Christmas to concerts of her choice. Yesterday, the OdP was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. In the first part, a curious idea: interpreting Debussy’s Preludes between the movements of Images. It’s hard to see the connection between them and the Sunken Cathedral or the Interrupted Serenade, a little more with The Wine Gate. Jean-Yves Thibaudet was impeccable – he was, of course, one of the pianists who interested me in my comparison of 160 cathedrals. Big disappointment for the Images: it was technically perfect, but we would have liked more colors, character, rhythms, and more pronounced accents and fewer tunnels (the problem is that we always have in mind Monteux, Stokowski, or Tilson). Following was a very beautiful Fantasy by Debussy where, this time, we had colors, a continuous musical flow – great success for Thibaudet.

Finally, Stravinsky’s Les Noces – before the concert, I was surprised that the names of the four pianists were not announced: that’s because there weren’t any. Another curious idea of EPS to call on a composer (Steven Stucky) to create a transcription for orchestra alone. We lose the dryness inherent in the original version (I recently received a tape of a Kubelík concert in Munich in 1962, including the Kontarsky brothers: it was, of course, a completely different musical image, and yesterday we missed the magic of the very end.
I had attended  a long time ago a rehearsal by Boulez of Les Noces with what seems to be the same choir of the Orchestre de Paris; at one point, Boulez asks, “the 3rd in the 2nd row: out!”). Remarkable performance by the choir yesterday, especially on the female side (a problem for all choirs: “we’re looking for basses”!). Soloists were decent, but the choir, the orchestra, and the conductor were magnificent. An animated cartoon (Hillary Eben) was projected on a large screen: a wedding of millipedes and insects in bathroom pipes, sometimes with lyrics appearing on a toilet paper roll… Yet, it was as fun as it was successful and fitting.