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Gerard McBurney's A Pierre Dream at The Maltings, Snape

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

18 June

This is a review of A Pierre Dream : A Portrait of Pierre Boulez at Aldeburgh Festival on Wednesday 17 June at 7.30 p.m.

Actors with placards, at times a little too noisy on their castors, protested not student issues from the late 1960s, but with the face, image and message of Boulez, in this unbroken evening, dedicated to his music and his (often literary*) influences.

At times, he was heard translated, possibly when he spoke in French more (or his English had not been so strong**, or he resisted talking in it ?), but very often not. And his face, whether in stills or footage, spilled onto or was caught on assemblages or groupings, or discrete arrays, of placards***, along with pages from his scores, or shots of places, or even images that were redolent of natural growth or of the rain. (One can taste the production a little here.)

Soprano Anna Sideris adeptly gave us Improvisations sur Mallarmé I and II (from Pli selon pli : Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd'hui… (Improvisation I) and Une dentelle s’abolit… (Improvisation II)), and Charlotte Betts-Dean Le marteau. Elly Condron, credited as a speaking actor (and all in white as a Muse ?), was clear, definite, and, deliberately, a little cool and detached in rendering English translations of French texts for his Mallarmé and René Clair settings (in Le marteau).

From excerpts of the intimate sound of piano**** (or doubled piano) to pieces for eleven players or more, such as Dérive 2 or Le marteau sans maître, writer and composer Gerard McBurney’s staging ranged over Boulez’ work, thought and utterance in this intense show. Hearing, and re-hearing, his texts and instrumental and vocal settings, his voice changed, but was always Boulez, just as he changed from his arrival in Paris to contemporary footage.

Do not take one's word for it : this review in The Times now Tweeted :


* Proust, Mallarmé, and René Clair.

** Striking up a conversation with him at Aldeburgh Festival’s Boulez at 85, with a friend who wanted to know his thoughts about Keith Jarrett (after enquiring about, which he denied, the influence of Messiaen’s teaching, thought to have been heard in works that he conducted the night before), one can testify to his English.

*** The fact that they were non-speaking actors, or that there were screens on the stage that acted as verbal prompts, was not sufficient to explain how they knew where exactly to be : no doubt there must have been tape-marks, of positions, on the floor.

**** Incises, Structures, Notations, and, with flute (which, it seems, Jean-Pierre Rampal rejected), Sonatine.

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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