Pierre Boulez in Rehearsal

LABELS: Arthaus
WORKS: Three Orchestral Pieces, Op. 6; Notation I; Notation II; Notation III; Notation IV


This looks to me as if the cameras began rehearsing for a performance (there are some elaborate crane and travelling shots), and then the producers realised that they could get added value by using the rehearsal footage, and getting Boulez to fill in the background after the event. So the DVD can’t quite make up its mind whether it’s performance, rehearsal or illustrated talk.

It begins with Boulez telling the VPO to settle down and starting to run the first of the Berg Pieces. Then we cut to him talking about the visceral impact of the music, before returning to the Musikverein. Only then does rehearsal begin, as Boulez focuses on specific bars and sections of the orchestra to clarify rhythm, balance and intonation.

His clear beat and famously keen ear are much in evidence, but there isn’t enough of this process before we’re back into performance and more talk, and this is the pattern throughout.


Yes, what Boulez says is interesting – particularly about his love of the danger of speed, and the way you have to rehearse the magic of complex textures. But I’d much rather have seen more rehearsal, and the fruits of it in complete performances at the end. Martin Cotton