Monday, September 27, 2004


This from Andrew McGregor on the BBC - Classical Review website, concerning Teldec's 'premiere' issue of Gyorgy Ligeti's Cello Concerto:

"The Violin and Cello Concertos have both been recorded several times before, but that doesn't detract from the importance of these versions. Siegfried Palm was the dedicatee of the Cello Concerto, and his unique authority combined with the commitment of the ASKO/Schönberg Ensemble and their director Reinbert de Leeuw (rehearsing and recording in the presence of the composer) makes for a memorable account of this shimmering 60s score.

"A superb recording, and fascinating sounds from a contemporary composer who never sounds quite like anyone else, and also writes good notes about his own music. If only all CDs of contemporary composers were this interesting, and necessary..." More.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Daniel Vincent writes to NFE with the following update:

"The new Onion Jack album has been completed and is awaiting mastering for release in October. I'm very pleased with it as it covers all the ground OJ has visited in the past couple of years (rock, prog, electronic, ambient), whilst at the same time moving us into exciting new territory.

"Also of note is The Brixton Session a set of acoustic songs recorded one afternoon in a studio in... wait for it... Brixton. Four tracks of singer-songwriter acoustic miserablism. Add to that collaborations with various people: The Parallel Rise, Lost Suburbia, History of Guns, to name but a few - things have been quite busy here! Oh, and I'm playing regular gigs in London..."

Definitely worth looking out for. The other relevant sites are: MrsVee (record label) and SouthLondonLive.

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Saturday, September 18, 2004


Technicians at Sweden's public television have unearthed a complete original recording of a Jimi Hendrix concert in Stockholm from 1969 on a tape long thought to have been destroyed. It comes from a period when the guitarist was at his most innovative. Collaborations with Miles Davis and others at the more avant garde end of the musical spectrum were being mooted.

(c) AP Photos

The unmarked tape was recently found stashed on a shelf deep inside the station's enormous archives during a project to transfer archived material from tape and film to digital, according to SVT spokeswoman Catarina Wilson.

The black-and-white recording from Stockholm's concert hall was ordered to be destroyed by a producer in 1969, a time when it was too expensive to keep all raw footage. Hendrix died the following year.

Wilson said it was likely that one of the state-run network's workers, perhaps a Hendrix fan, stashed it on the shelf, where it sat for 35 years gathering dust.

Part of the 56-minute concert was broadcast on SVT in 1969, before the Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded, but it has never been shown in its entirety. SVT is determining if it still has the rights to show the entire broadcast of the concert.

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Friday, September 17, 2004


The latest Early Music Weekend on the South Bank (it now happens every autumn) offers a wide variety of delights, including music from the Castillian court of 1504 presented, interestingly, by the Italian ensemble Micrologus. There's also the Orlando Consort singing music circa the Toledo Summit of 1502.

Then Schola Antiqua, Ensemble Plus Ultra - the names get more and more PoMo in 'Early' Music! - and His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts (sic) combine for what is being described as "a sumptuous reconstruction of a Mass as it might have been celebrated in the Court of Isabella." So she's have stuck her thumb to her nose as far as Church etiquette was concerned and gone for those heathen instruments, then? We'll never properly know, but it'll be a feast of sound, no doubt. And the event is under the rubric of 'Inventions', after all.

These innovative productions are among the identity trails of new EMW director Tess Knighton, it seems. It's getting better and better.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004


Now that the Summer is over (sad, but true) the Royal Festival Hall, in the throes of re-development, has re-commenced its 'Commuter Jazz' and lunchtime free concert series.

On 7 October, when I shall unfortunately be ensconced in a work meeting, the innovative British composer, saxophonist, flautist and improviser Theo Travis will be performing at
12:30 pm in the Main Foyer.

He joins forces with arguably the UK's top solo bassist and 'looper' Steve Lawson, "in a duo that performs imaginative and beautiful music - both composed and improvised using looping technology."

Thanks to Henry Potts for drawig my attention to this gig.

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Saturday, September 11, 2004


It's probably churlish, but today is my least favourite day in the annual musical calendar: the occasion when one of the world's greatest music festivals is marred by jingoism and irony-free sentimentality. The Last Night of the Proms. In today's Guardian newspaper critic Andrew Clements gives a pretty fair assessment of the season. Apart from the Boulez and Birtwistle premieres, 2004 has not been a great year for new music. Under Nicholas Kenyon the programming has become more cautious and more predictable.

Next year marks the centenary of the birth of Michael Tippett, one of the great British composers of the twentieth century, and someone who showed how you can honour tradition and blaze a trail for innovation at the same time. Disgracefully, not one of his compositions was on show this year. Hopefully 2005 will see a brighter Proms.

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Monday, September 06, 2004


Though I’ve only got to one Prom this year (a superb dramatic reconstruction of Britten’s 'Curlew River'), there are many I would have loved to have attended. The goodies on offer have included last Friday’s Ensemble Intercontemporain performance (under the composer’s baton) of Pierre Boulez’s ‘Sur Incises’.

Scored for trios of pianos, harps and percussion, this piece started life – like much of Boulez’s recent work – as a modest piano solo written a decade ago. It is now well over half-an-hour in length, elaborated to a shimmering exploration in sound. Complex surface textures jostle to introduce underlying themes of bustle and tranquillity as the piece unfolds. One of Boulez’s major inspirations here was Stravinsky’s emblemic ‘Les Noces’.

Tonight it’s the turn of Simon Rattle to unleash the formidable skills of the Berlin Philharmonic in Messiaen’s breathtaking swansong ‘Eclats sur l’au dela’ and Debussy’s richly suggestive ‘La Mer’; two quite different takes on the notion of musical impressionism. I'm also glad to see that, honouring his own Birmingham years, Rattle is taking the Phil back to Symphony Hall as part of their UK tour - for the first time in sixty years, I believe.

Earlier today the enterprising Britten Sinfonia gave the world premiere of Simon Holt’s ‘The Coroner’s Report’ in (of all places) the Lecture Theatre of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Good to see contemporary composition inhabiting – quite literally – historic Britain!

NMC also have a new, second disc out of Holt's compositions: 'Kites', 'Feet of Clay', 'Eco-Pavan', 'Boots of Leath' and 'Lilith'. The Rattle-conducted 'Boots of Lead' disc [NMC094] will be released in October 2004.

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Saturday, September 04, 2004


The latest CD release from Daniel Patrick Quinn, Severed From The Land features voice, synthesizers, cello, violin, trumpet, guitar, bass and percussion in an interesting post-rock melange. You can listen to MP3 clips on the Suilven Records website by following the link to his page. Quinn describes his hard-to-classify sound world as "ambient, folk, semi-jazz, avant, drone minimalism." It has already been commended by luminaries such as Robert Wyatt.

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"What happened? You were posting daily until February, and then nothing. I really found your commentary and links stimulating. Come back soon." Many thanks to Dana W. for this enquiring and encouraging message. It started with a couple of technical hitches, and then other aspects of life took over. But NFE is back, and will be updated once or twice a week. Maybe more. We'll see. Meanwhile, much gratitude to those who have written, and apologies for any concomitant delay in correspondence.

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