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Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich in All-Boulez Program / New York Times

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Pierre Boulez emerged in the late 1940s in Paris as a combative modernist, the brash new leader of the avant-garde. By 1952 he declared that any musician who had not felt the "necessity of the dodecaphonic language" was "of no use." Despite subsequent decades of winning over mainstream classical music audiences through his work as a conductor with lucid, colorful performances of everything from Wagner operas to Mahler symphonies, Mr. Boulez, who turns 90 on March 26, has never shaken his early reputation for writing pieces of off-putting complexity.

I wonder if those who feel this way might have had an epiphany from the Boulez program on Monday night at Zankel Hall. The masterly French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, along with a former student, the brilliant Yugoslav-born pianist Tamara Stefanovich, offered a rare chance for an immersion in some of Mr. Boulez's most fiendishly difficult pieces. Between them they played the complete solo piano works, including the three seminal sonatas, as well as Book II of "Structures" for two pianos. In these dazzling, rhapsodic and nuanced performances, Mr. Boulez's thorny pieces came across as radical, yes; extreme, for sure; but stunningly inventive and supremely musical.   READ THE FULL New York Times ARTICLE