New Book on Pierre Boulez Reviewed

Source: The New York Review of Books.

It is an important publication, especially because I believe it casts doubt on the notion that Boulez grew wiser or more generous with age. This book embodies his every paradox: he is both discerning and myopic, clever and needlessly cruel, capable of moments of thrilling clarity as well as long stretches full of bland, arid tautologies. His contradictions are the contradictions of the late-twentieth-century European avant-garde; his narrowness became the narrowness of a generation. As his era recedes, it feels newly possible to take stock of both his strengths and his limitations.