There’s a great feature over at the Guardian by Tom Service on Pierre Boulez’s annual conducting masterclasses at the Lucerne Festival. It includes a nice video interview with some brief footage of his work at the institute.
I’ve been told in the past by some of our students (sometimes in appreciation, but other times in bafflement) that the Rose City International Conductor’s Workshop was the only conducting masterclass they’d been to that put any emphasis on intonation, so I was doubly pleased (if not surprised, given that it was Boulez) to read this-
“…We spoke about this already, and so I mean, it ought to be right!” He then makes Pablo tune a dissonant horn passage. “Are you happy with that chord? I am not,” Boulez says. “So tell them how to make it better.”
Pablo identifies a problem with the G flat in the chord for the four horns, but can’t improve it without Boulez’s intervention. “The most difficult problem in conducting,” says Boulez, “is intonation” – ie making sure all the musicians are playing the right note. “You must know what is wrong and how to correct it.” Later, he tells me that he “cannot stand wrong intonation. I know I put the conductors in an embarrassing situation, but they have to be able to do it.”As if that isn’t enough, there is also an interview with Simon Rattle here.