you can never argue with good playing of music,even if the music itself is utterly dull and uninspired,although I have played music where no amount of interpretive imagination could have saved it;here we have inspired aggressive playing, in tune,well-balanced,and razor-sharp timbres exhibited,that in itself compells the ear to listen more,it instills a direct committment to the timbre, the ultimate meaning of music, this interface is one Boulez knows quite well,and as he has said himself no amount of wiggling gesticulating in convulsions on the podium will make the music any more interesting; that's not what you get herein however; "The Hammerless Master"when written was perhaps the most highly imitated work of the post-serial period,mostly academic Americans where everybody thought they could "out-Boulez", Boulez, well we have a lotta music now that is collecting dusk in those corridors.Boulez was more attuned to creating a new context for serial creativity a renewal of one with usuable timbres(Orient-Occidental) circling the globe, the gamelan timbre is certainly here,as well as the complexity of serial procedures. There are infintesimal harmonies created with the interesting combinations of acoustic guitar, viola, alto flute,percussion bongoes(primarily vibraphone).I never grow tired of this work, but Boulez's instincts for seeing interpretive dimensions no one else does is/are always worth pursuing(as his readings of un-Tchaikovsky-like Stravinsky,very lean and mean Berg, then Mahler and Bruckner) here in his own music he allows himself to find new points of pursuable interest as his more lyrical sensual "Hammerless Master" reveals. I still find the vocal writing however problematic, as if it is beside the meaning of the text,just another instrumental part thrown upwards; the voice has a kind of "other-wordly" place, not a conveyor of meaning but more of "ambience","mists" of an opaque situation.This recording trys to "fix" or "re-tune" this emotive role-bearing aspect of Rene Char's powerful text to some degree. Now if that is intended and if you find that compelling well no one can argue with this.
In "Derive" as well Boulez again here pursues yet another reading(like a cantus firmus) of his 1994 piano solo later revised in 2001, "Incises" translated as the "cuttings" as like a river may "cut" a continent in half, or the fine lattice work, the lapidarian shapes of nettles cutting a metal image in miniature. Here the gestures are fairly obvious, and I agree with the other reviewer who finds that the work grows dull and arbitrary in its discoursal direction.I first heard Derive 1 along side Dufourt's powerful "Antiphysis"(for larger forces) which drew the more sketchlike "unfinished" qualities in the Boulez all the more pronounced. It does have an affinity for late Debussy, with its find, pulled-backwards gestures, gentle tremoli,exposed fine elegant bourgeois melodic lines.