desert island discs

Good news for Michael Nyman fans.

David Nye has been so kind to transcribe the BBC Radio 4 broadcast (on 7 January 2000) of the programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, where Sue Lawley asks Michael Nyman a little about his life, and which eight discs he would like to have with him if he were to be stranded on an imaginary desert island.

A very interesting read (40Kb RTF document).

Thanks David !

john adams (update)

Ok. So it was a good concert. I was listening to Klara on the way home, and they gave a review of last night’s performance. All in superlatives.

The good news is:

1. they’re going to broadcast it (in Podium; daily programme, starts at 19:30)

2. apparently there’s going to be two other performances, in March, on the 15th and the 16th.

The question:

When I started listening, the review had already started, so I don’t know where those two other performances will be. I searched the Brussels Philharmonic Society and BBC Symphony Orchestra websites, looked at the Earbox website, but to no avail.

Does anybody have more info?

john adams

Did I miss the first good concert of the year (in Belgium), or what? Yesterday night the BBC Symphony Orchestra performed work by John Adams (conducted by John Adams) at the PSK/PBA in Brussels. The city where I work. *sigh*

The work performed was

Tromba lontana

Violin Concerto

The Wound Dresser

Guide to Strange Places (Belgian Creation)

I’m intrigued by that ‘Belgian Creation’ bit.

Did anyone attend? Was it any good or just plain bad? Either way, I could hit myself on the head for missing it. Repeatedly.

materiali sonori

A bit inspired by Kyle Gann’s discographic selection. If you’d like some recommendations on ahem… minimal music, do buy the following CDs from Materiali Sonori:

Ai Confini / Interzone

Century XXI UK a-m

Century XXI UK n-z

Century XXI USA 1 – electronics

Century XXI France

The Greetings Compact Vol. 2

Fluxus – Anthology

Utopia Americana (not really minimalist, but hey…)

You can find them via this list.

Miniatures is on there as well.

Glass Engine

At first I really didn’t understand what the big deal is about the “Glass Engine”. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s on the official Philip Glass website [ direct link ].

I considered it just a way of displaying information, and nowhere near intuitive (hence the lengthy page with instructions). It’s supposed to enable “deep navigation of the music of Philip Glass. Personal interests, associations, and impulses guide the listener through an expanding selection of over sixty Glass works.” On a side note, said personal interests are of “Philip Glass’s longtime producer and sound designer, Kurt Munkacsi”, not of the listener.

But I think it’s a fun tool. It needs calibration, and it should have been written in flash, not in java (which tends to freeze computers globally), and it shouldn’t by default eat up your screen. Maybe it’s a project I should add to the list, developing a “Nyman Engine” in flash (needs another name though). Instead of having somebody from Nyman’s entourage mark up the emotions, I could ask the visitors of the site for input. As an added bonus, I could ask somebody from MNL (maybe MN himself) to add their own ratings, and have it available as an option.

Hmmm? now there?s a thought…

BBC (new) music

Under the heading “Adventures in new music”, BBC music lists a few goodies to expect this year, amongst which:

– Steve Reich’s Three Tales, a stage collaboration with his wife (video artist Beryl Korot), to be premiered at the Wiener Festwochen in May

– Steve Martland’s Percussion Concerto is premiered at the Barbican in February (UK)

– Philip Glass’s Symphony No.6 and Harpsichord Concerto receive their first performances in New York (Feb) and Seattle (Sep)

Speaking of which, there’s been a re-release of Philip Glass’s Glassworks on Sony Classical + I’ve come across a new album, Music in the Shape of a Square, which, at a first listening session I found to be finally some sparkling fresh minimalism, but turned out to be 5 of his works from the end of the 60s. It’s an Italian release, on Stradiviarius (STR 33602), their website is at and here’s a direct link to their info about the CD

adams @ BBC music

I’ve picked up a copy of BBC music this weekend. I used to buy Classic CD every month, but it’s been quite a few years since I bought an issue (does it stil exist? I couldn’t find it anywhere on the shelves).

It was mainly the John Adams feature that got me to buy the January 2002 issue of BBC music, and I just had to share this quote:

Even as an undergraduate, Adams felt a tension between the energy of pop culture and contemporary classical music, which was dominated by the cerebral abstractions of serialism. ‘I was certainly aware that contemporary composers had painted themselves into a rhetorical corner. You know, the sort of arrogant attitude of Babbitt, Boulez and the Europeans: “This is an elite activity and I don’t expect you to understand if you’re just a common listener.” I wasn’t interested in that and thought if it continued, contemporary music would cease to be a force in cultural life.’

BTW check out the classical section of the BBC(i) website. It’s @

what is

Recently I’ve received some comments about Doesn’t matter who sent it, I’ve received similar e-mails in the past, but I’d like to respond. The remarks goes along these lines:

“Interesting site — it doesn’t seem to represent as much “contemporary classical” as it does a sort of mainstream, easy-listening minimalism.”

And actually I agree. is not an expert site. On it I want to share pointers to music I like, without you –or myself– needing a musical education to understand it. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for pointers towards more complex –not so much easy-listening– music, but is more about music than it is about tones, more about emotion than reason.