Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.
- Pierre Boulez turned 85 back in March, and the man himself led two concerts in his honor this week, with the Orchestre de Paris and the Ensemble intercontemporain in the Salle Pleyel. Unfortunately, both Boulez (in a public interview at intermission) and critic Renaud Machart pronounced these concerts "interminable" because of the length of seating changes from work to work, causing Boulez to declare that a concert hall suited to "the music of tomorrow" would have a revolving stage for such changes and an acoustic setup suited for the "spatialization" techniques heard in music by Boulez, Dalbavie, and others. Machart notes with some humor, "What other major musician of today would hold 'spatialization' up as a cardinal virtue of the music of the future and would dare to claim that that consideration requires one to rethink completely the setup of classical music venues? Only Boulez, as far as I know, could argue this point in such an opinionated way." [Le Monde]
- It's that time of the year: "NHL Needs to Raise $5,000 in 24 Hours if it Wants to Hold Stanley Cup Finals." [The Onion]
- The concern about hockey's popularity, or lack thereof, is so marked that Greg Wyshynski actually has a list of assignments for hockey fans to help raise awareness of the sport during the Stanley Cup finals. [Puck Daddy]
- Last Sunday in one of those inspired bits of wackiness that could only happen in France, a project called "Nature capitale" transformed the boulevard des Champs-Élysées into a garden. From the Place de l'Etoile to the Rond-point des Champs-Elysées, farmers hauled in 8,000 agricultural displays -- orchard trees, swaths of grass and other grains and other plants, enclosures of livestock -- and covered 1.2 km of the broad avenue. The pictures are whimsical. You can walk around and see everything for free, but you can also buy all sorts of agricultural products. Two million visitors are expected. [Le Figaro]
- The last two finalists in the piano competition of the Concours Reine Elisabeth played last night: American Claire Huangci and Russian Denis Kozhukhin. The announcement of the winner was made early this morning, and apparently the best was saved for last: the jury awarded first prize to Kozhukhin. (You can watch online videos of the competition.) His semifinal round performance of Mozart's K. 491, with fine cadenzas by Alfred Schnittke, was excellent, and his semifinal recital program was equally striking (especially the compulsory work, Back to the Sound by Belgian composer Jean-Luc Fafchamps). In the final round, he chose a Haydn sonata (!) and Prokofiev's second concerto. [Queen Elisabeth Competition]
- Classical music: "I'm not dead yet!" Thierry Hilleriteau reports that a new film by Radu Mihaileanu, Le Concert, has enjoyed record sales in France: 1.9 million tickets sold in theaters, huge sales on DVD and Blu-Ray (and selling, at the moment, at a rate of 4,000 DVDs per week). The entire final scene is given over to a performance of (part of) Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, and the effect on sales of CDs of that work and others by the same composer has been surprising, even leading to pirated CDs appearing in some shops. A successful film, even if it is not entirely about a composer but features a work prominently, can reignite interest in classical music among people who are not die-hard fans. Will Stephen Fry's new biopic on Handel next year have a similar effect? [Le Figaro]