Ensemble Intercontemporain/Pintscher review - bold and brilliant Boulez

Matthias Pintscher
The Guardian

The Barbican’s wide-ranging celebration of Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday closed with this programme by the influential ensemble the French composer founded back in 1976, here conducted by the orchestra’s current music director, Matthias Pintscher.

Two of Boulez’s own works were heard, preceded by Syrinx, a short and magical miniature for solo flute by Debussy – undoubtedly one of his predecessors whom Boulez regards as most vital to the birth of modernist music as a whole. Sophie Cherrier was the rich-toned flautist in a performance that suggested both the improvisatory quality of the piece and its paradoxical inevitability.

Pintscher directed a clean and authoritative performance, as he did of Asymétriades, a new, concerto-like work for solo double bass by the young French composer Yann Robin – here the virtuosic Nicolas Crosse – premiered by Ensemble Intercontemporain last November. Using a wide variety of extended playing techniques, it held the attention not only through the fascination of its explosive soundworld, but also in its dynamism and dexterity. By its side, Pintscher’s own Choc (Monumento IV) seemed comparatively diffuse and lacking in impetus.  Read the rest of the review here