The Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat has received permission to give world-première performances of a previously unknown early work by Pierre Boulez: the Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo, from 1944. The first performance will take place at the Paris Philharmonie on September 8; van Raat will then play it on the occasion of his Carnegie Hall début, on Oct. 24, and in Rotterdam on Nov. 25. Van Raat reports that the work begins in with gestures reminiscent variously of Bartók and Messiaen, but that hints of Boulez’s mature style become increasingly evident in the breaking down of melodic material into cells. Aside from the historical interest, van Raat believes that the piece will be a valuable addition to the twentieth-century piano repertory. Let’s hope a recording ensues.
New and recent releases of interest.
— Haydn, Piano Sonatas Nos. 49, 50, 32, 40; Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi)
— Bernstein, A Quiet Place, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland; Claudia Boyle, Joseph Kaiser, Gordon Bintner, Lucas Meachem, Kent Nagano conducting the Montreal Symphony and Chorus (Decca)
— Bach, Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord; Rachel Barton Pine, Jory Vinikour (Cedille)
— Michel Lambert, Leçons de Ténèbres des Mercredi, Jeudi et Vendredi Saints; Marc Mauillon, Myriam Rignol, Thibaut Roussel, Marouan Mankar-Bennis (Harmonia Mundi)
— Christian Wolff, John, David, Rhapsody; Lothar Zagrosek conducting the SWR Symphony Baden-Baden and Freiburg, Petr Kotik, Peter Rundel, and Roland Kluttig conducting the Ostravská banda (New World)
— Songs and Poems: works of Andreas Dohmen, Hans Thomalla, Walter Zimmermann, Wolfgang Rihm, Aldo Clementi; trio accanto (Wergo)
— Shostakovich, Symphonies Nos. 4 and 11; Andris Nelsons conducting the Boston Symphony (DG)
New and recent publications of interest.
Naomi André, Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (University of Illinois Press)
Gundula Kreuzer, Curtain, Gong, Steam: Wagnerian Technologies of Nineteenth-Century Opera (UC Press)
Emily Abrams Ansari, The Sound of a Superpower: Musical Americanism and the Cold War (Oxford UP)
Susan Tomes, Speaking the Piano (Boydell and Brewer)
Brian Olewnick, Keith Rowe (powerHouse)
Katherine K. Preston, Opera for the People: English-Language Opera and Women Managers in Late 19th-Century America (Oxford UP)
From the Ashes. The New Yorker, July 2, 2017.
A Cultural Comment on the New Yorker website, June 22, 2018.