Tuesday, January 21, 2003


"What is music and what is it for? Art in general seems to be a basic quality of being human. One might as well ask, 'Why breathe?' As to what it's for: off the cuff I can only suggest that it serves to keep the tenuous lines of communication open between different areas of ourselves." - Brian Ferneyhough

Guardian classical music critic Tom Service talks to doyen of British 'maximalists' Brian Ferneyhough ('Belt Up And Hold Tight') on the eve of his sixtieth birthday celebrations (the festival is at various venues in Durham, from 21-23 January. Box office: 0191-374 7032). Even Ferneyhough's works for solo instrument are often mind-bogglingly difficult - yet the impact is not as austere or uninviting as it may sound. One of my discs of 2002 was a recording of his Flute Works, where Kolbeinn Bjarnason plays piccolo, flute and bass flute gloriously on this rich collection of deceptively (and relatively!) simple reflections. Valgerour Andrésdóttir joins in on the 'Four Miniatures', by which time one's head is beginning to spin...

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