Top Ear is saddened to note the death of esteemed conductor and composer Pierre Boulez on January 5, 2016 at the grand old age of 90. As the numerous obituaries from various news agencies and orchestras have already mentioned, Boulez was an iconoclast and revolutionary in every sense of the word and in every facet of his music-making, be it conducting, composing, or teaching.
As a blog dedicated mainly to musical reviews, Top Ear will primarily remember him for his work as a conductor and his ability to illuminate strands of detail in even the most complex of orchestral textures, his staunch adherence to every marking of the score, the sheer precision and quality of playing that he got from most of the orchestras that he worked with, and his generally dispassionate (not to be confused with un/nonpassionate!) conducting demeanor.
Following are some of the highlight recordings of his work as a conductor.
- His Mahler cycle (reviewed here)
- His Ravel with the Berlin Philharmonic and Debussy with the Cleveland Orchestra, and particularly his accompaniment of Krystian Zimerman’s Ravel piano concerto
- His fascinating Bruckner 8th with the Vienna Philharmonic
- His astonishingly clear Gurrelieder
- And of course, his groundbreaking Sony recordings of Stravinsky’s ballets