Complexity is an inherent quality of Pierre Boulez’s musical language and compositional technique. It also describes the sometimes confusing genesis of many of his works. Boulez often re-used musical material from earlier pieces, developing and transforming it into new compositions, that, seen in context, form an interconnected network of proliferating musical ideas.
Originally conceived as an homage to the late Igor Stravinsky in 1971 and premiered in its final version in 1993, ...explosante-fixe... and its fascinating evolution—including the offshoot Mémoriale (...explosante-fixe... Originel) of 1985 that was performed on the third night of A Festival of New Music—is a striking example of Boulez’s passion for re-working, re-arranging, and expanding his scores, and adapting them to the new technology that was evolving all around him.
When Emmanuel Pahud, who is both the principal flutist of the Berliner Philharmoniker and co-curator of A Festival of New Music, performed the piece under Boulez in 2010, the two musicians discussed its history and the possibilities that electronic music presents.
Video courtesy of the Berlin Phil Media GmbH