The Sonatas here are impeccably played,much like Pollini. . . But I really miss his intense passion, the ferocious energy I found with Pollini.
The earlier Idil Biret,is also quite passionate.
But or even more compelling is Yvonne Loriod,who premiere these Sonatas. . . her old Vega Vinyl recording of the Second Sonata (minus the fourth movement) is incredible. That one is by far definitive. Too bad she really hated the work, and working on the piece with young Pierre. . .But the slower tempi she takes proves good Karma,a good pathway for violence and brutality.The amount of pent-up impulses, explosive rhythmic drive, unrelenting ferocity,penumbral intensity, mountainous violence and brutality she is able to summon from the Second Sonata is breathtaking. And yet you feel she is really not there.
Marc Ponthus and Claude Helffer also need to be fast furioso, and irrational electric, this is a performative trap many times, for the lines Boulez shapes so impeccably, screeching dive-bombing into all the registers of the piano turn into noises. . .under their hands. . .
Loriod never recorded the First or Third Sonatas.
Vassilakis First Sonata is also very short like Aimard's recoding.. . . and his reading is very similar just as precise, clean with clarity. . . Yet Aimard doesn't compromise the linear timbral ferocity yet keeping clarity.Passion is still the foucus again the brutality is affirmed, the clipped percussive convulsions are present. . .
Perhaps Vassilakis is thinking of the relative 'salvaged'' complaisant sensibility of Boulez of the present,attuned now with the vagaries of the human condition,safe and secure instead of the Boulez of 65 years ago. . .
The First Sonata as well needs to be a bit more angered for me, given the context of the times Boulez wrote these works, fascinated by Artaud, and the irrational isms of the times, intense abstract abandoned ''vuota''.Cut''incises'' from the same conceptual frame as the ferocious ''Flute Sonatine'' . . .
However The Third Sonata has been a problem for pianists, it is never played as often as the other two works, and many pianists refuse to learn it. . .It is much more austere,OK,convoluted,yet refined elegant, inhabiting that space of nothingness Mallarme has taught us about in his cryptic poetry. . .those blank pages. . He is known for. . . the ''other'' space.
Vassilakis, for the Third Sonata understands this much more than any previous pianists I've heard.Again the agenda for this unfinished Third Sonata is very surprising,abstract, yet expressive,, , the fine upper filigree registers, and morose turgid basso moments;and its open form, controlled yes but alea at work indeterminate. . . . Vassilakis seems to understand the work much better than any predecessors,as the late Rosen,or quite recent Austbo's fine recording with Carter's ''Night Fantasies'' He is well equipped and would be my third choice,yet Pi-Hsien Chen does a wonderful inspired Third Sonata as well, she has vision and conceptual understanding of this work. . . . is also very good, clear, clean. . .
The full'' 12 Notations ''are here, and again I prefer Aimard's passionate readings,especially if you've experienced the odyssey of these pieces transmogrified by Boulez into his Orchestral re-workings, re-transformations, like a phoenix rising . . .
''Incises'' is here as well a latter work and again this is wonderful playing of the full version,longer, and more expansive for its fragmentary-like structure, of slow fast,slow fast; again late Boulez loves those unending fast upper registers filigree passages,something that has become a commonplace with the piano music of Ferneyhough, Finnissy or Sciarrino;
Late Boulez is still intimately controlled that is determined more by etude-like pieces; Inward discipline is required,reserve of passion,more ''third person'' inter-subjective music than the more angered iconic intensity required for the First and Second Sonatas.
The premiere recording of a previously unheard work by Boulez was exciting to experience entitled ''Une page d'ephemeride''(2005). This was also as ''incises'' written for a piano competition. .. . Boulez's infatuation with fast''dromos'' uncontrollable music, dangerous,unsecure he calls it. . . It is very close in substance and gesture to ''incises'' with its repetitions of block chords, repeated notes, tones marking boundaries of structure. . .