Friday, February 28, 2003
[93.1] THE SOUND OF SIRENS
Deep Listening is an educational venture of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation. It involves a range of creative programmes and projects, like 'Lunar Opera' and the participatory 'Through the Millennium', based on electronic, through-composed and improvisatory music. The philosophy is couched in terms that can come across as rather off-puttingly 'new agey' and repetitive, but the sound sources are not at all bland or soporific. 'Dream Time' (7' 35") from the 1995 'Tosca Salad' CD is drone based, ambient, but also angular, occasionally dissonant and multi-perspectival. The remarkable, tenacious, 70-year-old Oliveros' own site includes a biography and interview, free scores, MP3s, articles and archives. Check out the composer's catalogue here.
"Everyone with healthy ears can hear. Listening takes cultivation and evolves through one's lifetime. Listening is noticing and directing attention and interpreting what is heard. Deep Listening is exploring the relationship among any and all sounds. Hearing is passive. We can hear without listening. This is the state of being tuned out - unaware of our acoustic ecology ... We hear in order to listen. We listen in order to interpret ourselves and our world." (c) Pauline Oliveros
Thursday, February 27, 2003
[92.1] ATONAL EAR CLINIC
While upbringing and the surrounding world rapidly atune our ears to customary forms of tonality, the same is not true for atonal music. Though both film scores and rock contain elements of dissonance, the schemas within which they operate radically reduce the shock-of-the-new. Hence the usefulness of CUNY doctoral student Dave Smey's free PC software programme, the 'Post-Tonal Ear-Training Suite'.
This material was inspired by Michael Friedmann’s Ear Training for Twentieth Century Music (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990) and requires some basic knowledge of post-tonal theory. It occupies 4mb of hard disc space, has a zip set-up file, and functions on Windows 98/ME/2000/XP. You need a soundcard (obviously) but MIDI is optional.
The programme enables you: to sing intervals against a referential drone for pitch-class zero; train your ear for dyad identification; identify pitch intervals within various trichords, classify them, identify them in set-types, and distinguish between different pitch-space realizations of a given trichordal set-type.
Way to go, Dave. Just what we need for new front ears... (Maybe they should tell the good people at A-atonal)
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
[91.2] WIRED FOR SOUND
Neurologists at McGill University are studying the notion that musical response is hardwired into the human brain, and that the pleasure we get from music is developmentally essential.
"Music involves perception, memory, emotion, motor control, all the learning aspects. It brings together a lot of different functions in a very coherent way," says Dr Robert J. Zatorre of Montreal, who is also an acomplished organist. "The brain wants patterns to assemble but it also craves diversity, so a very important part of music is surprise. And you can only be surprised if you anticipate - and don't assume a random series of notes." [Blogcritics/classical]
There are resonances between this research and Bernstein's famous Norton Lectures (compelling on video if you can get hold of them), 'The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard', which posited an inherent grammar of tonality. Such ideas share many of the strengths and weaknesses of Chomsky's linguistic theories. However the MacGill notion is more about the necessary tensions between regularity and surprise. "The brain's chief task it to keep astonishing itself", says Zatorre. Tell that one to GW, somebody...
[91.1] WARP WORKS AND C20th MASTERS
Cage, Ligeti and Stockhausen sit unexpectedly alongside Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Boards of Canada on Saturday 8 March. The live extravaganza at the Royal Festival Hall in London is the joint brainchild of Warp Records (with Mira Calix live, and visual FX by FLAT-e and Bluespoon) and the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Stefan Asbury. This is part of a series of events under the banner 'Ether2003 - where worlds collide'. Should be quite an evening...
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
[90.1] OPERATUNITY MISSED?
The English National Opera website is being relatively coy about its cancelled production of Berlioz's 'The Trojans' tonight - at a cost of £50,000. The Chorus, threatened with redundancies and facing a management that appears uninterested in even listening to their ideas about alternative savings, is instead giving a free performance of Verdi's 'Requiem' at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden WC2 (Tel. 01707 650 735). Not so much a strike as a sing-in. More about the ENO situation at The Guardian's site.
Oh, and if you're wondering about the pun in the headline, here's some background about the UK TV Operatunity from the BBC. You can even watch the whole programme on-line. The monicker has also been used by a worthy outreach venture in Arizona... "Our programs are interactive, and improvisational. Call us in-your-face-opera. We tailor each performance to any age group, anywhere, at home in the cafetorium as in the concert hall."
Monday, February 24, 2003
[89.2] TOUGH AS STEEL
Just in case you think NFE has gone soft in the head [see 89.1], I am delighted to be able to point out that The Wire's site has been relaunched and redesigned with new content (including a fabulous links section) and a new interface. A good place to take a musical cold shower. You could also go for a bath in Hyperreal, a definitive electronic music database, and swim your way through the exhaustive Herz-Lion yield on all things experimental, while you're about it.
Oh yes, IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), sans Boulez these days, have also re-done their site. It's much more user-friendly, while the output is as pleasingly uncompromising as ever.
On the avant jazz front, check out the Carbon-7 compilations on the Brussels-based independent label: "a leading international producer of distinctive, innovative, orginal and accessible music in a wide range of styles and at the frontiers of a number of different musical categories." They have reviews and sound samples.
[89.1] SUMNER FRUITS?
Album: ‘All This Time’ (Live)
CD: November, 2001
Number of Discs: 1
Label: A&M 4931802
Whoa! What’s a lightweight like Sting, who sells albums by the bucketful, doing in a place like NFE? And not long after Messiaen, Ferneyhough and Cage? Well, criminally un-hip though it may be, I like a good deal of his material. The jazz police (pardon the pun) may balk at Branford Marsalis, the late Kenny Kirkland and a host of other stellar performers hitching their wallets to a commercial artist, but some of the results have been enjoyable examples of intelligent song writing and instrumentation. Take a listen to ‘Bring on the Night’, the first live double CD, if you doubt me. Kenny G meets the Stones it ain’t.
This particular set was recorded in Italy on - of all days - 11 September 2001. Still, with a superb touring band like this and some good material, how (musically) can you go wrong? The answer, on the whole, is that you can't - given strong performances and workable arrangements, which certainly exist here. Having said that, the original version of the title track, 'All This Time', is one of my favourites. Not being of a conservative temperament, I was actually looking forward to another take. This re-working is laid back verging on weak, however. It lacks the tight orchestration and emotional punch of the ‘Soul Cages’ version. Melody, colour and drive are not elements to compromise in a piece which depends upon them.
Most of the other songs fare better, however. Around half are re-arranged, Police numbers included. Live performance allows the material to breathe and the band extemporises well (within the limits that clearly exist in a context such as this). It is particularly good to hear Jason Rebello again. His piano fusion debut in the '80s, 'A Clearer Day', remains a classic. Indeed I'd recommend you to listen to any of his albums and to take in his solo or band appearances when you get the chance. A breathtakingly underrated talent. Chris Botti’s suave trumpet is also worth the entry price.
So although he may appear a little inadvisably pompous at times, Sting is to be credited for giving a much wider audience to some fabulous musicians, and for showing that songs can be thoughtfully crafted and accessible at the same time: a rare gift in a world where popular music has mostly been wrecked by the suits and marketing geeks. Not quite as strong and atmospheric as the 'Bring On The Night', but a worthy album nonetheless.
A good one to relax to between more demanding musical diets, dare I say.
Sunday, February 23, 2003
[88.2] SINFONIETTA ELECTRONICA
The ever enterprising London Sinfonietta has announced "an exploration of the realtionship between virtuosity and live electronics" for one night only at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. Works featured include Pierre Boulez's 'Anthemes 2' (solo violinist Clio Gould surrounded by "an army of sonorities", Jonathan Harvey's 'Birdsong' for interactive electronics, ensemble and piano (Joanna MacGregor), and the UK premiere of Matthias Pintscher's 'Tenebrae' featuring Paul Silverthorne (viola) and the work of Sound Intermedia, using IRCAM technology. It takes place at 7.45 on 23 April 2003.
If you can't wait that long, and have broadband access, go to 3D Music, "a cyber-symphony that remains unfinished until you are ready to put down the baton" (New York Times). This is a London Sinfonietta and Braunarts collaboration.
[88.1] BEYOND ACOUSTIC PERFECTION
Composer Peter Amsel writes: “There is a certain desperation amongst modern composers, I believe, in that the audiences to whom new music is being directed have become jaded by the availability of acoustic perfection as found through studio recordings. Everyone has access to their favourite music – so there is no longer an urgency for people to go to concerts: music will still be there tomorrow. At one point the concert hall was practically the only place where a person could go to hear a performance of large-scale works, but now the sound of the symphony can be heard coming from any personal stereo – and new music gets relegated to obscurity.”
Saturday, February 22, 2003
[87.3] STOP MESSIAENING ABOUT, MAYCOCK
Gosh, even more spleen from The Wire (see 'Highly Strung', below). This time it's Philip Clark laying into Robert Maycock. In a well-judged appraisal of 'Glass: A Portrait' (Sanctuary, September 2002), Clark rightly disses cheap point scoring against serialism and the post-Darmstadt era. Philip Glass deserves better than to be used as a battering ram for ideological philistinism, and Maycock's assault on Olivier Messiaen is ignorant and fatuous, as I hope Glass points out to him.
"Maycock describes the 'teacher in France' as composing music that audiences could only grasp by 'sitting through the difficult bits' to wait for 'something spectacularly luscious', and that fellow composers would 'snigger behind Messiaen's back' at his religious beliefs. I can only assume that this is why Messiaen became the most admired teacher and influential composer of his generation." Quite. The truth is probably more aptly summed up in the review in today's Guardian of Peter Hill and Benjamin Frith's piano duo recital at Cardiff University last week. Rian Evans writes:
"The evening's high point was Messiaen's ecstatic cycle for two pianos, 'Visions de l'Amen'. The playing was so vivid that the air seemed to fill with the sweet smell of incense and the joyful clamour of birdsong and exotic gongs. There was a tenderness and sensuality in the lyrical phrases but, in the hands of Hill and Frith, it was the florid rhythmic exuberance and cumulative force of Messiaen's impassioned testimonies to divine power that made this so compelling. Audience and performers alike seemed stunned but elated by the experience." (c) Guardian Newspapers / Rian Evans
That's more like it...
[87.2] HIGHLY STRUNG
The Wire's editor Rob Young vents his spleen gloriously against 'High Fidelity' author Nick Hornby for his new book '31 Songs' (March 2003, issue 229, page 4). Discussing how he has "no use for" Suicide's 'Frankie Teardrop', Horby declares: "I don't want to be terrified by art any more." This is enough (understandably, in NFE's humble opinion) to send Young into a splenetic rage. "Among other factors that make this tract so despicable", he points out, oozing blood invisibly onto the page, "are the lack of commitment or ideas, the relentless yet misplaced and laughably bungled political correctness [from an *Arsenal* supporter? Ed.], the low attention span, the desperation to be all things to all people, and the irritating, presposterous arbitrariness of that title - why 31 songs?" In this instance I'm prepared to go with the critique even without having read the book.... but that last comment cannot go unremarked. This is The Wire you edit, Rob. And if we can't allow a bit of good old preposterous arbitrariness on planet avant, where on earth can we have it? Not that you've missed a cunning literary illusion, or anything....
[87.1] DONE AND DUSTED / ORIGINARTS
'Dusted' is a nifty e-zine from Vermont focussing on US slanted avant-, post- and indie-rock (with occasional jazz and free improv intrusions, like Daniel Carter and Reuben Radding's fine album 'Luminescence'). It includes features, reviews, lists, writers and labels. The 2002 chart database is a useful resource in its own right. Charts are compiled from top 30s submitted by approximately 40 handpicked college-affiliated/independent stations in the USA and Canada. The site is advertising free and updated daily, with up to ten reviews a week. Congratulations to Otis Hunt and Sam Hunt for this useful contribution to new music writing.
Talking of Carter and Radding, see this review of 'Language'. The OriginArts site links to Origin and OA2 Records.
Friday, February 21, 2003
[86.1] GEIRR TVEITT / ‘CRY OF THE GULLS’
Of course we go on holiday to get away. But we don’t want to get away from sources of good music, do we? Yet it is often difficult to access something a little more discerning in more remote locations. Since one of my regular holiday haunts is Cornwall, I was pleased to discover ‘The Cry of The Gulls’, a craft shop and gallery in nearby Fowey which specialises in fine ceramics, painting, sculpture and jewellery – but which also has a small collection of classical CDs. Tony Jones, who has been running the shop with his wife Jeannette for a number of years, said in October 2002 that they were about to launch a website, and here it is. Worth a visit. The homepage refers to CDs, but there’s no web section on their stock as yet.
The popular choices are there, of course. But one or two exotic finds (by high street standards) are also possible. Last time I dropped by I picked up the Naxos recording of Geirr Tveitt’s Piano Concerto No 4 (‘Aurora Borealis’, 1947) and ‘Variations on a Folksong from Hardanger’ (1949) for two pianos and orchestra [N8555761, July 2002] . What a superb discovery. A colourful Norwegian idiom, folk influence and lingering nineteenth century romanticism are part of Tveitt’s sound world, naturally.
But while far from avant garde, these are not backward looking works. They have an exploratory, cosmopolitan feel. The composer, well known for his exhaustive Greig analysis and love of Brahms, also experienced much personal tragedy. It was this, perhaps, that kept his harmonic nerve sharp and stopped him slipping into sentimentality. This disc has been well reviewed (BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone and elsewhere) and it was one of my own favourites of 2002.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, long associated with Michael Tippett among others, give an excellent account of themselves here, and on ‘A Hundred Hardanger Tunes’, Suites No 2 and 5 (Naxos 8555770, February 2002). Both are under the baton of Bjarte Engeset. Naxos also offer the First and Fifth Tveitt Piano Concertos (N 8555077, September 2001).
“Sounding like a Scandanavian Villa-Lobos and sharing the Brazilian master's fountain of melody and masterful orchestration[, t]his is some of the most physically exciting music you will ever hear: a mercurial musical rollercoaster.” (Amazon.com)
Thursday, February 20, 2003
[85.1] PALMER'S COURT
Composer: John Palmer
Performers: Jane Chapman, Pete Lockett, etc.
Label: Sargasso 28038
John Palmer's music-making is rooted in the modern composed tradition, but his journeyings across the world have given him an interest in a wide range of aural universes. 'Encounter...' is precisely about the excitement, energy and unpredictability that can occur when musical worlds collide. The title piece engages haprischord with oriental percussion, for example. 'Hinayana' is based on solo oboe, but employs pitchbending and multiphonics to stunning effect. Electronic and acoustic sounds blend and confront each other in a collage of composition and improvisation rooted in intense expressivism. Timbral variation and development is one of his major concerns.You can't really put Palmer into words, you simply have to listen and explore...
"John Palmer was born in 1959 and took his first piano lessons at the age of six. He is a British composer with a strongly international background: brought up in Wales, Italy, Switzerland, Russia and the UK he worked mainly on mainland Europe until 1990 when he returned to London. In the mid-seventies he began to compose and perform as a pianist and keyboard player and directed several groups of experimental music and jazz. Since the mid-eighties he has focused on instrumental, orchestral, vocal and chamber music, and in the early nineties he extended his compositional interests with electroacoustic resources." (c) MusicNow
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
[84.1] A-ZORN (AT FIFTY)
The enterprising Britten Sinfonia are celebrating the 50th birthday of new music maverick John Zorn (Coltrane and Stravinsky via cartoon cut-zap) with a tour taking in Brighton (7 March), Oxford (9 March), London's QEH (10 March), Cambridge (11 March) and Birmingham (13 March). Featured works are Zorn's 'Angelus Novus' and 'For Your Eyes Only', John Adams' 'Chamber Symphony', Janacek's 'Rikadla', and John Woolrich's 'Music From A House Of Crossed Desires'. Stephen Drury conducts. Free pre-concert talks will start at 6.30pm at all venues.
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
[83.1] CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
“The American Music Center (AMC) is a national service and information center for new American music. For more than 60 years the AMC has been the leader in the creation of a variety of innovative new programs and services including: NewMusicBox, a monthly web magazine about new music; NewMusicJukebox, an online library and listening room; a Professional Development Program; Opportunity Update, a monthly listing of new-music opportunities for AMC members, and other career-support publications; vital grantmaking programmes; and the American Music Center Collection at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.” © AMC
Monday, February 17, 2003
[82.1] CRIMSON CURTAIN CALLS
The latest quartet incarnation of Robert Fripp's experimental and evolving King Crimson begins touring extensively in the USA and Japan from the end of this month, with dates through to April. Speculation is rife regarding the possibilities of Europe. Fripp's recent diaries have disdained the idea of London, though that may not be the final outcome. I have yet to hear the new album, The Power To Believe (released in Europe on 24 February 2003), but I'm hoping that it is an improvement on The ConstrucKtion of Light, 'FracKtured' aside... The momentum of the splendid ProjeKcts seems to have been lost somewhat.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
[81.2] CLASSICAL CD REVIEW
Robert Benson writes: "New reviews on the Classical CD Review site - orchestral music of Reger with the LPO/Bostein, Ernest Toch's 'Piano Concerto' and several other works, also with Bostein conducting, and Atterberg's Symphonies 5 and 6 with Rasilainen conducting.... and a recap of private companies that are issuing high quality re-issues - usually at budget price - of important performances previously unreleased on CD. Go to 'Reviews' and you'll see them listed. Also check the CD Index for many other reviews of intriguing recordings."
[81.1] INVARIABLE QUALITY
One of the standards in BBC Radio 3's classical output is repeat Winter broadcasts of Proms (in this case from last Summer) on Saturday nights. This evening we revisited a fabulous late night concert featuring the Australian Chamber Orchestra conducted by Richard Tognetti and the BT Scottish Ensemble conducted by Clio Gould. Its highlight was the 'Variations On Sellinger's Round' (an Elizabethan tune) from 1953, commissioned for the Aldeburgh Festival.
The anonymous sixteeth century theme itself is articulated by Imogen Holst, and the variations are by Arthur Oldham (a now largely forgotten English choral master of the earlier part of the twentieth century), Michael Tippett (whose piece combined the tune in a slow version in the minor key with part of the air and ground bass from Dido's first aria in Henry Purcell's opera, 'Dido And Aeneas'), Lennox Berkeley (featured recently in NFE), Benjamin Britten, Humphrey Searle and William Walton. Tippett, incidentally, went on to score another four pieces to produce a 'Divertimento' described here by Meirion Bowen.
This ensemble piece (in all senses of the word!) was accompanied by three established scores - Elgar's 'Introduction and Allegro', Vaughan Williams' 'Fantasia On A Theme Of Thomas Tallis' and Tippett's 'Fantasia On A Theme Of Corelli'. I am delighted to have had the chance to hear this concert again, not just for the works, but for the extraordinary playing of the two string orchestras. The ACO and the BTSE feature some younger musicians of extraordinary virtuosity and sensitivity. On this occasion they absolutely glowed with intensity, attack and real feeling for the music. I certainly intend to check out their recordings.
Radio 3 Proms repeats are detailed here.
Saturday, February 15, 2003
“The present horrors and evil results of modern total war are far greater than the evils which the wars hope to eradicate.” -- Sir Michael Tippett, composer
"The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In the interregnum, a variety of strange and morbid symptoms appears." -- Antonio Gramsci, theoretician and pianist
"Art does not make peace...That is not its business...Art is peace." -- Robert Lowell, poet
"We urge the British government to withold support for a war ... [which] would be both immoral and contrary to international law ...[and] would inevitably destabilise the situation in the Middle East further." -- John Williams, guitarist, Musicians Against Nuclear Arms
"Give peas a chance" -- First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra
Friday, February 14, 2003
[79.2] EYRE ON A B-STRING
Work: ‘Jane Eyre’
Composer: Michael Berkeley
Ensemble: Musical Theatre Wales
Conductor: Michael Rafferty
Performers: Andrew Slater, Natasha Marsh, etc.
Label: Chandos CHAN9983
Released: 1 September, 2002
Composer Michael Berkeley’s 70 minute opera based on the world famous novel handles a literary epic in a thoughtfully episodic, dreamlike way. It assumes a basic knowledge of the text and then re-paints some famous scenes in a completely fresh way – through the luminosity of song. The libretto is by David Malouf, who also provided the words for Berkeley's first opera, 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' (Rudyard Kipling) in 1993, Richard Meade's 'Mer de Glace' in 1991, and Patrick White's 'Voss' in 1978.
This recording is based on the world premiere at the Chelteham Festival just under three years ago. The Musical Theatre Wales Ensemble under the direction of Michael Rafferty offer a light, carefully constructed and almost translucently intricate instrumental texture against which the unfolding recitatif is laid. Berkeley’s sound world is anything but square: his modern sensibility is, however, both bittersweet and nuanced in its lyricism. Fine vocal performances and typically accomplished Chandos production make this a delightful work. For the curious there are five minute-long 'Jane Eyre' sound snatches (from a total of twenty tracks) on Amazon.
[79.1] CALCULATED DISSONANCE
“One of the biggest misunderstandings about free jazz is that there is absolutely nothing free about it. In all of the artists, from Coltrane to Sun Ra, their music was completely and absolutely premeditated and calculated. The artists would labour and practice [for] hours in order to create a sound the sound they desired. What was free about the music was the musicians’ ability to stretch their music beyond the existing boundaries. Their music was not free from structure, just free from rules.”
Brian L. Knight offers a good three part overview of the avant / ‘free’ jazz scene in the 1960s and 1970s in the Vermont Review, where you will also find a stimulating collection of reviews, resources, photos, links, concert reviews, interviews, CD profiles and essays. Bits of alt, electronica and rock creep in too. Interviewees include John Scofield, Matthew Shipp, DJ Logic, Roy Ayers and Boston-area free jazz pianist Jacques Chanier. There’s a rather strong Phish motif in there too, but we’ll leave that to your discretion….
Thursday, February 13, 2003
[78.2] TAPEGERM COLLECTIVE
“The Tapegerm Collective is a creative musicians' collective which embodies the idea of a sonic organism. We drop loop-strips of music into a pool. We assemble new compositions from the elements in the pool, freely adding elements of our own. Certain sections of the pool are open to the public to drop and extract additional elements, influencing the evolution of the organism.”
And they have a fabulous range of links and soundsources on their page….
[78.1] BERKELEY SQUARED
Michael Berkeley writing in The Guardian on his father, Sir Lennox Berkeley ('We lived in a secret, intoxicating world'):
I have often been asked if it was difficult having a well-known composer as a father, but curiously it has never worried me. As much as I love Lennox's music, and perhaps as a result of it, I knew from the age of six that I wanted to compose - but in a different, more overt, vein. Writing this now, it occurs to me that Lennox was essentially a classicist. He felt uncomfortable at emotions laid bare, at raw turbulence. It should come as no surprise that Mozart was his God.
Yet for all the difference in our two characters, there are audible connections. Whenever Lennox came back from a Mozart, Verdi or Stravinsky evening, he would go straight to his piano and the score and point out how magically a bassoon or horn held the harmony together with a sustained note and how, conversely, Verdi, say, would sometimes make the vocal line a monotone while the orchestra carried the melody. It was impossible not to be infected by this most subtle and gradual dissemination of technique and idea. (c) Guardian Newspapers / M. Berkeley
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
[77.1] SUBLIME AND SENSITIVE TAYLOR
Another blast from the fairly recent past which happens to have found itself on my sound system recently is 'Artistry' (Linn AKD 020, 1992 re-pressed 1996).
Eleven miniatures - most standards - are here breathtakingly unveiled by jazz djangoista Martin Taylor, one of the truly great guitarists of this (and any other) generation. Produced by Steve Howe, with whom he has also completed the about-to-be-released 'Masterpiece Guitars', this album ranks alongside the newly-issued 'Solo' as the finest exposition of Taylor's treble-stopping acoustic technique - which makes complex peformance so light on the ear. His technical skills are beyond question, of course, but that is not really the issue on 'Artistry'. Taylor evidently loves this music and he therefore performs it with enormous sensitivity, respect and interpretational skill. Fortunately the production and engineering are up to the mettle of the performances. The sound on the disc is warm but uncluttered.
With fingers and notes flying, 'restraint' is hardly a word you expect to come to mind. But in spite of his great proficiency, that is what Martin Taylor shows when it is needed. Everything is there for a purpose, and he uses his dexterity to emphasise the melodic and harmonic richness of the material. For some reason 'Artistry' (a very appropriate title) is not easily available in shops at the moment. You can listen to it and buy directly from Linn - or you can pick the odd copy up via Amazon.
Martin Taylor has a packed tour schedule between now and August, taking in the US, Japan, Australia and mainland Europe. He is next in England in Boxford, Suffolk, on 21-22 February, then Scotland on 23-25 May (Kirkmichael International Guitar Festival, Ayrshire), at the Bath Festival on 26 May with Bireli Lagrene, and with Martins4 at the Perth Festival (Scotland again) on 29th. There are further English dates between June and August.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
[76.1] EXPLORING GEORGE BENJAMIN
"By George! - Musical Encounters with George Benjamin" is a year long series (which began in October 2002) featuring eleven concerts at the Barbican. As well as performances of acclaimed works such as 'Ringed by the Flat Horizon', 'Three Inventions' and 'Sudden Time', two pieces will receive their world premieres: 'Palimpsest II' for orchestra and 'Shadowlines' for solo piano. Artists involved in the series include Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Kent Nagano, and Benjamin himself, who will conduct several performances. Concurrently, a 'Discovery Programme' of talks, lectures and films will allow audiences to explore his music in more depth.
The ‘Shadowlines’ premiere is this Thursday. There is a Benjamin discography here, plus a complete overview at Faber Music.
Monday, February 10, 2003
[75.1] FORWARD TO THE PAST
The web is a wonderful place to reconnect with people. A few years ago I briefly met up with Tim Rayborn (while I was visiting Leeds University, where he was then based). He subsequently disappeared from usenet and changed his email, following a variety of immigration problems. Borders are often so unfriendly to musicians. I was delighted to come across his excellent website recently, and suggest you have a look at it.
For the record, Tim Rayborn is an internationally-acclaimed musician and performer of a wide variety of different styles of music, including medieval, North African, Balkan, Turkish, Iranian, and Indian. He plays more than 30 musical instruments and has toured extensively in Europe and the US, as well as working with traditional musicians in Marrakech and Istanbul. He has recorded three critically-acclaimed CDs for ASV/Gaudeamus, Britain's top early music label, as well as several other CDs, and is currently in the process of finishing work on three new recordings. Tim’s solo CD, ‘The Path Beyond Music from the Edges of Islamic Civilization’ (KALAM CD 001) is now available.
“I'm the founder of a medieval group called Ensemble Florata, which has recorded three CDs. The first is music of medieval Spain, (CD GAU 144); the second is music of the Sephardic Jews of medieval Spain, North Africa, and the Ottoman Empire (CD GAU 165). We're currently recording our third CD, music of medieval Germany. I sing, play `ud (Arabic lute), medieval harp, psaltery, Arabic percussion, and saz (Turkish lute), as well as a few more ‘modern’ instruments.”
Sunday, February 09, 2003
[74.4] TIME AND A WORD
Actor Ian McKellen was the guest on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ this week, and he chose an expectedly diverse and florid collection of music, from the late Beethoven Quartets and Barber to Abba, and from Lena Horne ('Stormy Weather') all the way to Harrison Birtwistle’s superb ‘Harrison’s Clocks’. I had forgotten just how much I love these wonderfully irregular keyboard cameos inspired by the legendary Greenwich timepieces. Peter Grahame Wolf sums it up well in his review on Len Mullenger’s excellent MusicWeb site:
“This is one of the most important piano works to have appeared towards the end of the 20th century. After Joanna MacGregor's exclusive rights expire, every aspiring new music pianist will tackle these five pieces, and they will take their place in the 2000 piano repertoire alongside the Ligeti studies, which seemed so impossible at first and are now standard repertoire.” © MusicWeb/Wolf
Wolf interviewed Birtwistle after the London premiere of the work five years ago. The complete score should be available from Boosey and Hawkes.
The CD of this work (SC004), together with snippets from the 1998 rehearsals on ‘Outside in Pianist’ (SC002) is usually available direct from MacGregor’s label SoundCircus. Having realised that it’s not actually in my collection – though I’ve heard it a number of times – I went to order at SC. According to the blurb it’s ‘not available’, but according to the order form it is. I’ll check this out further. ‘Harrison’s Clocks’ should most definitely not be in limbo…
Incidentally, 'Desert Island Discs' is still not on the Radio 4 Listen Again circuit. Must be a copyright issue.
[74.3] RECENT MICROTONAL MUSIC
From composer Daniel A. Stearns:
"I've recently updated my ZeBOX site: There are eleven pieces up, and they're a bit of a mix of some of the things I do. There's microtonal electric chamber music (1, 2, 4); experimental fusion with microtonal guitar (3); microtonal Americana (5); solo jazz guitar (6, 7); avant-jazz guitar trio (8); a punk-jazz power-trio featuring 15-year-old-drummer Mike Seda (9, 10); and a jazz suite for microtonal turntable quartet (11). I'd suggest 11, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, or 7 if anyone is curious."
[74.2] ALL SOUND
Allsound.org is a news and discussion forum site covering the gamut of experimental, fringe and avant-garde music and sound. It covers (in no particular order): electronic music (in all of its myriad sub-genres), free and jazz improv, new music, avant composition, sound experiments and installations, noise, unclassifiable and post-ambient, out/post-rock, tools and gear, aesthetics, performance approaches, relevant software (Mac, PC, and otherwise), homemade instruments, circuit bending, broadcast/streaming radio and video, and much more. There’s a regular newsletter, mobile updates and a registered area.
[74.1] ANTI, MAINSTREAM…?
Album: ‘Enemy of the People’
Artists: Asian Dub Foundation
Released: 3 February 2003
Catalogue: Virgin 5427892
Asian Dub Foundation’s new album, ‘Enemy of the Enemy’ is brimming with passion, aggression and social commitment. Rooted in a frenetic kind of Indo-indie reworking of dub, raga-rap and junglism, it alternates between blistering critique and (with the help of Sinead O’Connor on “1000 Mirrors”) painful exposé. In a commercial context all this stands in refreshing contrast to the vapidity of placebo consumerism. But as challenging music in its own right it falls a little flat. I welcome ADF traducing the British government’s inhumane asylum policy on “Fortress Europe”, of course. And to hear “Rise to the Challenge” on a party sound system makes a pleasant change from rehashed ‘80s and ‘90s hits or throwaway dance tunes. There’s also some nifty low-end bass and scorching tabla locked within these cuts. Master-D turns his hip hop phrases with aplomb. The slower numbers twist and turn with burning emotion… but most of the tunes are pretty conventional, frankly. Where ‘Rafi’s Revenge’ (1999) offered a fresh Asian response to reggae and drum’n’bass and ‘Community Music’ (2000) cleverly cannibalised corporate clichés, ‘Enemy of the Enemy’ cuts no new sonic ground and suffers without that edge. It is certainly lacking in comparison with the raw urban angst of ADF’s legendary soundtrack to ‘La Haine’, of which we get only fleeting glimpses here. On ‘Enemy’ Virgin can be seen to be investing in something ‘alternative’ without actually threatening the mainstream. In short, the redemption of the message is not matched by any real radicalism in the beat. A bit of a disappointment.
Saturday, February 08, 2003
[73.2] BRITISH COMPOSERS PROJECT
Following on fron EMC (73.1 below), MusicNow is the site of the British Composers Project, which initially featured fifty composers who have been associated with the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize, now broadening its scope and developing new directions. There's a ring starting with Hugh Shrapnel that enables you to take a full composers tour. The independent MN Record Label (use this link, the one on the MusicNow page isn't working) is an excellent source for contemporary classical, world and community musics. A substantial index of listening-tracks online is also available.
[73.1] NOT EXACTLY ECM
Virginia Anderson introduces EMC: “Founded by Christopher Hobbs in 1969, the Experimental Music Catalogue provided, in a series of anthologies, the best in modern music of the 1960s and 1970s. Experimental Music Catalogue composers included Hobbs, John White, Howard Skempton, Michael Parsons, Cornelius Cardew, Hugh Shrapnel, Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars and other members of the British Experimental movement and the Scratch Orchestra, as well as international composers. In the spirit of the original, the Experimental Music Catalogue has been revived by its founder... For the past two years, response to [this] site has been gratifying, as a new generation has taken to experimental music in all its forms; of classic text-based and graphic pieces, of indeterminate and systemic music, of music from traditional tonal and other-tonal sound worlds. You will find here pieces by Hobbs, White, Smith, Shrapnel, Parsons, Cardew, and other experimental composers and writers.”
There are also some good on-links to other associated sites. Several of the links above have sound samples.
Friday, February 07, 2003
[72.1] BACK TO THE FUTURE
Album: 'Orchestral Works'
Composer: Elisabetta Brusa
Catalogue: Naxos 8.555267
Released: September 2002
No of CDs: 1
The problem for much neo-tonal concert music these days is not so much the concept (we seem, partially at least, to have transcended the fruitless ideological stand-off between tonality and serialism) but how to realise substantial and memorable compositions in a world of recorded sound where classics abound. Composers like James MacMillan succeed in reworking tonality not just by eschewing musical orthodoxies but by developing an approach which is recognisably their own - while aware simultaneously of the inheritance of 'classical' tradition and the opportunities afforded by the European (particularly) avant garde. But the more commitedly you write in received traditions the more demanding the task of saying something singular becomes.
Elisabetta Brusa, who works with consciously traditional orchestrations, is at the epicentre of this challenge. A good overview of her work is provided by the Naxos 'Orchestral Works' collection, which features six pieces. Her sound world is eclectic, emotional and full of light and shade. 'Firelights' (1992-93) calls to mind Stravinsky's 'Fireworks' and other compositions written for festive events over the centuries. 'Adagio' (1996) is inspired, says the composer, by Mahler, Rodrigo, Barber and Albinoni. It also has lingering echoes of a more brooding Lutaslawski. 'Wedding Song' (1997) is a celebratory but formal ode. 'Requiescat' (1994), dedicated to Brusa's late London teacher and guide, Hans Keller is a musical invocation ending in a chorale Amen.
The two concluding works are the timbrely rich 'Suite Grotesque' (in four short movements) from 1986, which inevitably calls to mind Berlioz, and 'Favole' (Fable) from 1982-3. The latter is a seven-part suite based on phantasmagorical folk stories and aimed, in a somewhat old fashioned way, at 'young people', a la Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf'.
Brusa is a composer of some imagination. She has significant technical resources and is able to blend a variety of lucid melodic approaches with contrapuntalism, a good feel for colour, dynamics and texture, and occasional brushes of dissonance. There is a even a faint hint of the blues somewhere in the midst of 'Favole'. But the pull of the nineteenth century is very strong indeed. And no matter how brimming full of ideas this music is it still feels uncomfortably familiar. It is virtually impossible not to play the 'sounds like...' game, and I wonder how many re-visits it would seriously pay. The mannered pleasantness gets, well, just too ‘pleasant’.
Still, if a certain kind of traditional tonality is your thing you will find a home here. The companion volume (Naxos 8.555266) contains another five works, 'Florestan', 'Messidor', 'La Triade', 'Nittemero Symphony' and 'Fanfare'. Intriguing, but I think I'll pass...
Thursday, February 06, 2003
[71.2] LIVE MUSIC STILL THREATENED
Back on 5 January 2003, NFE reported on the potential threat to live music in England and Wales (particularly at a local, informal level) brought about by a complex and bureaucratic Licensing Bill being proposed by the British government. Following massive lobbying and a 40,000 strong on-line petition, UK Culture Secretary Kim Howells -- who seems, in fact, to despise much modern artistic expression if it falls outside his rather parochial horizons -- has made a major concession. Churches and other places of worship will now be exempt from the proposals. This is a development which will serve the interests of a range of cultural organisations with no direct religious concerns, since these premises are used for thousands of different events and rehearsals.
Howells curiously observed that his new move would "enable .. institutions and music societies to flourish", thereby inadvertently recognising the deleterious impact his legislation would otherwise have! We're not dealing with an over-subtle mind here.
At any rate, while this is progress, folk and jazz pubs and clubs will still be hit for six by financial impositions under the proposed Bill. There is no justification for this because problems of noise, disorder and health and safety (which this massively overwrought legislation is supposed to address) are already covered by existing law. So the struggle goes on. The Musicians Union, arts groups and the serious national media are unanimously against what The Independent has described as "a deeply flawed piece of legislation". A full briefing is here. Sign the petition too. The rumour in Parliament is that a further humiliating back-down is on the cards as reality dawns, but only if pressure is kept up...
[71.1] PROKOFIEV PREMIERE
The world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's hitherto obscure ballet 'Trapèze' (a work written for a quintet of oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass) will take place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on Saturday night. Noelle Mann, who has been working extensively on the Prokofiev archives, first discovered the final section of the work 18 months ago. Prokofiev's 'Quintet' Opus 39 was born out of the music for 'Trapèze'. The later 'Divertimento' (Opus 39) also includes some of the Trapèze music. English National Ballet are to perform it on 8 April 2003 at Sadlers Wells, the first staging of the ballet since its original run of performances in Germany and Italy in 1925-26.
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
[70.3] THE SUBLIME AND THE RIDICULOUS....
While you have to register to see Lou Harrison's obituary in the 'New York Times' (below, 70.2), the ones by Bret Johnson and Neil Sorrell in today's 'Guardian' are there for all to read. It rightly acknowledges that Harrison was a man whose musical passions were immensely respectful of different influences - from Cage to Eastern -- but were beholden to no rigid ideology; indeed they were marked by a sense of responsible play, as well as by idiosyncratic inventiveness. His compositions came in many forms: modal, dedacaphonic, conceptual, 'American gamelan', and so on. Thanks to Harrison many more learned of Ives, Ruggles and Xenaxis. I predict that in the near future he will be a far larger figure in the history of artful twentieth century music than he seems now.
On a different note and a different passing, the pungent Rod Liddle writes: [Maurice Gibb's] .. death has diminished me big time each day for the past couple of weeks. Whenerver you turn on the radio, or the television, or walk into a pub, some castrato valedictory disco hymn by the eponymous brothers will be blaring out at you... I have nothing personal against Maurice .. I just hate his music. That insipid falsetto jabbering and the vapid white-boy beat and the inane words and the great lumpen tunes [are] as saccharine and clying as a family-sized bar of cheap English chocolate.
Many of us have thought this; few have dared to articulate it.
[70.2] LOSS OF LOU HARRISON & PETER SCHAT
Sad news that Peter Schat, one of the eminences of post-60s Dutch new music, has died – shortly after the loss of American musical giant Lou Harrison. From Harrison’s obituary in the 'New York Times', courtesy of composer Jeff Harrington:
His .. music ranged with a giddy indifference to musical polemics, from Serialism to folkish tonality in the manner of Aaron Copland to Ivesian collage to percussion, along with the many pieces for non-Western instruments. He prized just intonation, meaning pure intervals uncompromised by the Western tempered scale. He sought universal peace .. writing or titling several of his works in Esperanto. Above all, he revealed in melodic sensuality and timbral extravagance, born from the pitch-purity of his tunings and the enormous variety of instruments and combinations that he employed.
Here is Harrison in conversation a few years ago with John Luther Adams. An extensive Lou Harrison archive and on-line resource is being developed by close associate Charles Hensen at San Jose State University.
Peter Schat's 'Composing - My Life' site is worth a visit. A few weeks ago NFE featured his tone clock in jazz and improvised music. There is a biography here.
[70.1] PRICKLY HEAT
In support of their new album, In Absentia, Steven Wilson’s psychedelic, experimental and progressive influenced band Porcupine Tree have announced European tour dates, beginning with five concerts in the UK:
* Mar 03.03 Dublin, Ireland: Temple Bar Music Centre (00353) 16709202
* Mar 04.03 Wolverhampton: Wulfrun Hall 01902 552121
* Mar 05.03 Manchester: University Academy 2 0161 832 1111 / 0151 709 4321
* Mar 06.03 Glasgow: Queen Margaret Union 0141 221 5279 / 0870 169 0100
* Mar 08.03 London: Shepherd's Bush Empire 08700 600 100 / 0870 771 2000
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
“The end of all good music is to affect the soul” – Claudio Monteverdi
"Which is more musical: a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?" - John Cage
“I find it difficult to know the place to draw the line where jazz begins and ends. It all depends on how it sounds.” - Duke Ellington
[69.1] PURE CHANCE…. CAGE IN AMSTERDAM
John Snijders tells us that on 14, 15 and 16 February 2003 the twenty-piece Ives Ensemble (with Dance Works Rotterdam, Brabants Conservatorium and members of the Ricciotti Ensemble), in collaboration with de Ijsbreker, is organising a festival called “John Cage: Puur Toeval” (Pure Chance). Ten Cage pieces will be played in various locations throughout Amsterdam. These will be: ‘Cheap Imitation’ for 24 players (1969-72, Dutch première), ‘How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run’ (1967), ‘En Solo for Piano’ (1957-58), ‘Sixty-eight’ (1992, Dutch première), ‘Atlas Eclipticalis’ (1961-62), ‘A Book of Music’ (1944), ‘Speech 1955’ (1955, unsurprisingly), ‘Telephones and Birds’ (1977), ‘Freeman Etudes I – XVI’ (1977-80), ‘Solos for Voice’ (1958-70) and ‘Cartridge Music’(1960), and ‘Sixteen Dances’ (1950-51) – which is the world premiere of a new choreography by Ton Simons.
Monday, February 03, 2003
[68.1] DAY TRIPPER
Artists: Robert Fripp and David Sylvian
Audio CD: 3 December, 1993, re-pressed 2001
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Virgin SYLCD1
[Shiva] bestows wisdom and peace and is not only terrible but profoundly benign. [His] nature at once transcends and includes all the polarities of the living world.
Darshan, from ‘Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization’ by Heinrich Zimmer (Princeton UP, 1946).
One from the vaults that turned up during a clear out, this: but still very much alive and available. Suspended implausibly somewhere between the impulsive energy of Hungarian folk melodies, the Mediterranean colour of world trance and the drone echoes of post-rock, 'Darshan' anticipated many subsequent trends in articulate and artistic vernacular musics. The main piece is as it occurs on the album ‘The First Day’ (this is an EP), along with an slightly shorter (16”) alternate take. The main added interest, with hindsight, is the ambient re-construction by those archetypal urban sprawlers, the Future Sound Of London ('Darshana'). While duo FSOL have now re-emerged from silence in the hippydrome (after their industrial experiments ground to a halt), Robert Fripp has been soundscaping his way around the planet and lands back on earth shortly courtesy of the latest King Crimson offering, ‘The Power To Believe’ [see also the EP calling card, ‘Happy With What You have To Be happy With’] . The collision of these two quite distinct musicians on this EP, album and tour was clearly a fortunate one. The collaboration with David Sylvian, who is as interested here in the blended instrumental texture of the voice as he is elsewhere in the colour of words, works effectively. The different accounts of the basic thematic material provide several features of interest and many points of departure. A pleasing reminder of the early '90s 'Road from Graceland' era. Trey Gunn (grand and tenor sticks), David Bottrill (treatments, sampled percussion, computer programming), Jerry Marotta (drums, percussion), Marc Anderson (percussion) and Ingrid Chavez (vocals) join the explorations.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
[67.4] LUTYENS ON DISC
Following on from the Elizabeth Lutyens profile below, her Amazon.co.uk listed recordings, in addition to the excellent retrospective Chamber Works detailed on NMC Records, are 'Verses of Love' performed by the Ionian Singers (cond. Timothy Salter) on the USK recording Twentieth Century British Choral Music, and 'As I walked Out One Evening' (with Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Graham Johnson) on Hyperion's 'In Praise of Woman'. Also the 'Trio' on New English Clarinet Music, 'Six Bagatelles' and 'O saisons, O châteaux' on Cala's 'Red Leaves', 'The Country of the Stars' (collection of the same name), 'Encore - Maybe' on 'Perspectives: Contemporary British Piano Music' (both USK), and 'Echo of the Wind' on 'Invocations: Contemporary British Viola Music' (Black Box). 'The Stevie Smith Songs' are on the deleted 'Dreamscapes' (Unicorn-Kanchana).
Tomorrow, 3 February 2003, Troubadisc release Lutyens' 'String Quartet No 6' on 'String Quartets by Women Composers'. The time is surely nigh for someone to look into a boxed set, but the commercial climate hardly seems hospitable to that kind of daring venture...
[67.3] TWELVE-TONE LIZZIE
"Each of us is alone on the heart of the earth
pierced by a ray of sun: and suddenly it's evening." - Salvatore Quasimodo
Tonight at the Purcell Room on London's South Bank there is a celebration of the life and music of Elizabeth Lutyens (1906-1983), the indefatigable and determined serialist composer. There will be reminiscences by friends and colleagues and her music will be performed by the Endymion Ensemble to mark the twentieth anniversary of her death.
The daughter of famous Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, 'Twelve tone Lizzie' (as she was affectionately known) studied in Paris and at the Royal College of Music in London. She was one of the first British composers to adopt serialized techniques, notably with the 'Chamber Concerto No 1' and 'The Birthday of the Infante' (1939). Her small-scale opera 'Infidelio' (1954), with its playful Beethoven references, and the cantata 'De Amore' (1957) were not performed until 1973, but she then became accepted as a major figure in twentieth century composition. Her other work includes the chamber opera 'The Pit' (1947), 'Quincunx' (1959), and 'Vision of Youth' (1970). She wrote dozens of film scores (around 100 in all), but her commitment to atonality meant that she was ignored, ostracised and marginalised for many years. William Glock, controller of BBC Radio 3 from 1959 - 1972, was her saviour, and that of much other avant garde music too.
Her publishers, Schott, comment: "Formal clarity and precision were valued above romantic expression [in Lutyens' work], but her finest music balances classical poise and direction with a turbulent current of genuine emotion." Some valuable historical context is provided in Heward Rees' final interviews with Welsh musical colleague Grace Williams. See also Susie Harries' and Meirion Harries' biography, 'A Pilgrim Soul, The Life and work of Elizabeth Lutyens' (Michael Joseph, 1989), Sally Macarthur's 'Feminist Aesthetics in Music', chapter 4 (Greenwood Press, 2001) and the composer's own 'A Goldfish Bowl' (Cassell, 1972).
Lutyens' song cycles are among her best known pieces. MusicbyWomen have a couple of soundclips from the Retrospective CD, which includes 'Valley of Hatsu-Se', '6 tempi for 10 instruments', 'Lament of Isis', 'Triolets 1 and 11' and 'Requiescat'.
My own exposure to her work was also my first serious encounter with serialism. It frightened the life out of me (I was only 16 at the time, and Bartok was the most radical thing I had come across). But there was something passionate and compelling about the way she wrote. I fell in love with 'And Suddenly It's Evening' (for solo tenor and eleven instruments), which was written in 1966 to mark the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in 1967. I still only have the work on a scappy, low-quality preview cassette -- all I had to hand when Radio 3 broadcast it in 1974. The piece is based on poet Salvatore Quasimodo's three-line couplet from 1942. Contemporary US lyric stage composer Tobias Picker has also set the same verse, though I have not yet heard this. It isn't on his recordings page, but I gather it will appear in 2003.
Coincidentally, in last Friday's Guardian newspaper (31 January 2003) , journalist Stuart Jeffries wrote a piece on wartime propaganda music, 'Listen with Prejudice'. Lutyens features honourably in the following closing extract:
[She] wrote a score for a 1946 information film called 'The Way' from Germany about the problem of 18 million people in postwar Germany - concentration-camp survivors, slave workers from eastern Europe - who were to be freed and returned to their various homelands. It must have been a difficult film to score with emotional conviction; how do you write incidental music to go with such a voiceover as the following? "German families were made to give up two sets of clothes to those who had been forced to go in rags or even naked." How do you write music for a film that deals with exposing former Nazis who were trying to pass themselves off as refugees? Certainly not with fanfares or heroic marches. Amazingly, Lutyens manages an impressively modulated, impeccably tasteful score. After all the British martial musical scores in the Imperial War Museum's season, stirring tattoos, victory marches, and obligatory pastoral airs, it is especially refreshing to hear Lutyens' careful work, in which she maps a more complicated emotional terrain and expresses poignantly the disastrous aftermath of war. (c) SJ / Guardian newspapers.
There is a fine Lutyens profile on the BBC1 audio interviews site. There is a list of works on MusicWeb. 'Music for Albion Moonlight' contains David Bedford's work of that name and also features Elizabeth Lutyens' 'And Suddenly It's Evening' (Argo-Decca ZRG 638, 1970; LP only). The work is also on LP 5205, 20530. I haven't been able to trace either so far.
[67.2] VOX NOVUS
Vox Novus, 'the new voice in contemporary music' is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary music, musicians, composers and their works. It contains a huge range of resources including composer notes, scores, audio-files, an American composer timeline, references, links, concert details and much, much more. An absolute must. The site map gives a good overview.
[67.1] NEWFRONTEARS INDEX – JANUARY 2003
In the first full month of NFE’s daily incarnation there have been 78 items. To view an archive item check the date and enter the relevant archive page (left). The reference number will take you there more quickly. Feedback or suggestions welcome. See contact above.
66.3 Stefan Hakenberg update
66.2 Jazz CD round up (John Scofield, Thomas Gansch, Eddie Henderson)
66.1 Michael Tippett’s literary and musical influences [1 February 2003]
65.3 See the music: Marcus Lindberg with Edgar Varese and Sonimations
65.2 Interplanetary fusion: Magma
65.1 Another country: Bill Frisell, ‘The Willies’ [31 January 2003]
64.2 Quota: Norman Lebrecht and G.F Handel
64.1 Kosmic Grooves: DJ Martian [30 January 2003]
63.2 Simon Rattle shakes Berlin
63.1 Odes to joy: Handel re-issues on disc [29 January 2003]
62.2 Quota Marcus Lindberg and Christoph von Dohnanyi [28 January 2003]
62.1 Tool, ‘Lateralus’ [28 January 2003]
61.2 Trans Atlantic Horn Quartet
61.1 Sound adventures: Spring Heel Jack [27 January 2003]
60.2 Andy Sheppard update
60.1 Difficult Listening [26 January 2003]
59.2 Pianocircus update
59.1 Taking the rap: Andrew Mueller [25 January 2003]
58.1 George Barati review: Symphony No 1 et al [24 January 2003]
57.1 Gordian Knot, ‘Emergent' [23 January 2003]
56.1 Chris Becker update [22 January 2003]
55.2 King Maximalist I: Brian Ferneyhough
55.1 Millennium John Cage [21 January 2003]
54.4 Daniel Barenboim takes a stand
54.3 F**k Dance, Let’s Art: improv
54.2 Quota: John Yeats, Morton Feldman and Pierre Boulez
54.1 Santana de cruise [20 January 2003]
53.2 Duo46 update
53.1 Thomas Lee and Gunther Schuller [19 January 2003]
52.3 Prokofiev and Ry Cooder
52.2 Closer to the edge: John L Walters
52.1 NFE update [18 January 2003]
51.3 Bridge Records
51.2 Alassandro Scarlatti
51.1 ‘Latin America Unwired’ (World Music Network) [17 January 2003]
50.2 Quota: Oscar Wilde, Squidward and Kyle Gann
50.1 Beth Gibbons and Rustin’ Man, ‘Out of Season’ [16 January 2003]
49.2 SPNM sound experiments
49.1 Chester Music and Novello [15 January 2003]
48.2 Michael Tippett’s Second Symphony in London
48.1 Composer Stefan Hakenberg [14 January 2003]
47.4 Burning Shed CD-R label
47.3 Chad Wackerman, ‘The View’
47.2 Allan Holdsworth update
47.1 Logos Foundation in the Netherlands [13 January 2003]
46.2 Sacre Bleu: Michael Berkeley et al
46.1 Vinyl solutions, CD haunts (in Britain) [12 January 2003]
45.3 The last two weeks on NFE
45.2 Quota: David Gelenter, Judith Weir, Pierre Boulez
45.1 New Music Bazaar [11 January 2003]
44.3 Joe Zawinul live on Three (and beyond)
44.2 Contemporary music Grammy nominations / The Boulez Project
44.1 Embellished chant: Peter Wilton, ‘Alleluias’ [10 January 2003]
43.3 Future Perfect: Judith Weir in India
43.2 All together now: Uri Caine, King Crimson
43.1 Unravelling the world: the Rough Guides to world music [9 January 2003]
42.2 Contemporary takes on Purcell: Matthews, Weir, Ruders, Sawer,
.........Torke, Payne, Lindberg
42.1 Threat to live music in England and Wales / Sutcliffe [8 January 2003]
41.1 Turnage in conversation and action [7 January 2003]
40.2 Improvising into 2003: Sassu’s ‘Jazz Te Deum’ / Uri Caine
40.1 Kyle Gann and Conlon Nancarrow [6 January 2003]
39.4 Tone clock in jazz and improvised music
39.3 Poulenc’s ‘Dialogues des Carmelites’ at the Met
39.2 Classical London
39.1 Jekyll and Hyde jazz: Chris Botti, Bill Bruford & Tony Levin [5 January 2003]
38.3 Turnage, Park Lane Group and SPNMers Live
38.2 New music links update
38.1 Quota: Zappa, Shklovsky, Bruford, Billings, Wilde [4 January 2003]
37.2 Tippett’s ‘King Priam’: new production
37.1 Prosaic jazz, improv and new music links [3 January 2003]
36.3 Quota for 2003: Michael Tippett, Oscar Wilde, Margaret Attwood
36.2 Robert Fripp and David Sylvian: ‘Damage’
36.1 NewFrontEars Index for December 2002 [2 January 2003]
35.2 Celebrating World Music Day 2003
35.1 Toru Takemitsu: walking on air [1 January 2003]
Saturday, February 01, 2003
[66.3] STEFAN HAKENBERG UPDATE
Composer Stefan Hakenberg, featured in January 2003 on NFE, provides his latest news:
* The publication in March 2003 of a CD on the Capstone label entitled 'Of Time and Place' with music by Craig First, Michalis Lapidakis, and of my own pieces 'Cube' played by the Phorminx Ensemble from Darmstadt/Germany and 'Wild Landscape and Underbrush' played by the Arcadian Winds from Boston.
* In July The Stroller White Pipes and Drums will premiere 'Two New Scottish Dances' I am writing for them as part of CrossSound 2003.
* I am also about to write a piece for the Wang Changyuan Guzheng Ensemble of New York but don't know, yet, when they will premiere it.
* September will see the premiere of the three song cycle 'Oder River Image' for mezzo soprano and vln, vla, vcl, fl, cl, bss, and piano in Chicago.
* Then in October a new piece for recorders, cello, kayagum, and bass koto will be premiered as part of a concert program at the Municipal Theatre in Nuremberg/Germany.
* IIIZ+ keeps on playing 'Three Zithers and a Pair of Scissors'; next season amongst other places in Berlin, Paris, and New York.
[66.2] JAZZ CD ROUND UP
BBC Radio 3's jazz pages include a regular CD round up, which most recently features brief profiles (with soundclips) from guitarist John Scofield's So-Lo-Ho-Fo 'supergroup', with 'Oh!'- released on 28 January 2003 - featuring Joe Lovano (tenor and soprano saxophone), Dave Holland (bass) and Al Foster (drums). Also included is Julian Siegel ('Close-up',
Sound CD 1001), Thomas Gansch (the trumpet and flugelhorn virtuoso, with both a trio and a nonette), and Herbie Hancock associate Eddie Henderson ('Realization' / 'Inside Out') of Mwandishi and Headhunters (Kosmigroov-JahSonic) fame.
[66.1] TIPPETT’S MUSICAL & LITERARY INFLUENCES
Weighing in at £45 / US$78, Suzanne Robinson’s new book on Michael Tippett is hardly a snip, but it looks worth the entry price. From Ashgate, the publishers:
“One of the great composers of the twentieth century, Michael Tippett found inspiration for his music amongst literary works that spanned all ages and many nations. His numerous settings of poetry, his several large works for voice and orchestra and the five operas that he wrote testify to his impressive command of literary history. The texts of these works are densely allusive, self-consciously interweaving quotations and half-quotations.
”The essays that make up this volume are specially commissioned interpretations of the relationships between music and literature that permeate and characterize Tippett's music and his writings. Indeed the first chapter in the volume is Tippett's own essay 'The relation of autobiographical experience to the created work of art' which guides the reader through his literary loves. Edward Venn follows this with an essay that surveys Tippett's main literary writings and the insights these offer into his other creative work.
”Discussion then turns to the music, with Sean Flanagan's research into the development of Tippett's musical borrowings. Suzanne Robinson and Rowena Harrison take a different approach, with an analysis of the intertextuality of the texts of 'A Child of our Time' and 'King Priam'. Barbara Docherty examines the technical processes involved in the conjoining of words and music in 'The Heart's Assurance', while Arnold Whittall discusses the music's ultimate transcendence of words in Tippett's vocal compositions.
”Other facets of Tippett's career are explored by Lewis Foreman and Suzanne Cole. Foreman's essay details the composer's persistent courtship of the BBC, while Sue Cole discusses Tippett's time as Director of Music at Morley College. The volume concludes with an investigation by Meinhard Saremba of the reception of Tippett's music in Germany.”
‘Michael Tippett: Music and Literature’ [ISBN: 0 7546 0132 3] is available in hardback only, and is 282 pages. Robinson teaches at the University of Melbourne in Australia.