archived

It’s been fun while it lasted, but let’s face the truth: december.org no longer is a source for minimal music and hasn’t been for quite a while.

As of today this site exists for archival purposes only.

Thank you for your visit, and I wholeheartedly recommend any of the other sites in the link section below.

kiss

How about this for a fairytale:

Once upon a time a young magician and a young Empress hoped to marry, but her parents forbade the match. Both young people married others. But the magician, Dispacus, hot for revenge against the Empress, whom he wrongly blamed, brought up his only daughter, Tormentilla, on poisons, so that the first man she kissed would die. He knew that the Empress had a son and he planned that his daughter should be the cause of her son’s death.

The Empress, cleverer than he, knew of this and brought up her son, Amaryllus, on antidotes, so that when fate brought the young people together and inevitably made them fall in love, the first kiss was not fatal, though at first it seemed so, for Amaryllus fainted from pure joy. When he was brought home he did nearly die from the pain of being separated from his love.

Eventually the Empress relented and allowed Tormentilla to see him. Amaryllus’s happiness was so great that his mother was touched to the heart. She summoned Dispacus –long a widower as she had long be a widow– and all differences were healed. Not only did he and the Empress marry, but also her ladies-in-waiting married his hobgoblins. The prince, of course, married Tormentilla, while her faithful companion, Angelica, married his friend and squire, Gallanthus. And they all lived happily for ever after.

My four year old son, Henri, is getting rather fond of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Poisoned Kiss –and prefers listening to that rather than watching the telly. And honestly, who am I to go against him?

album cover
The Poisoned Kiss
Ralph Vaughan Williams
» buy the album @ amazon UK

Conducted by: Richard Hickox
Performed by: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

reflections

By sheer coincidence I’d found out yesterday that the Bijloke had a concert scheduled –that same night– by the Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico. The fact that the concert hall is only minutes away from where I live, quickly removed any doubt that might have been there re: attending the performance.

The architecture of the building itself is still impressive, though the room acoustics tend to be rather bland (even though a lot of research went into improving this). Last time I’d been there, was for the Kronos Quartet performance on their Nuevo tour (in 2002, see also this entry). From the first notes on, the Cello Octet performance promised to become equally good.

Unfortunately the instruments were electronically amplified, and there was a tape accompanying the cellos to fill in for any missing instruments. Completely unnecessary as the performance and sound of the eight cellos proved to be powerful and diverse enough to handle all melody and rythm, but also a bit annoying since –due to the difference in prerecorded sound and the warmth of the live cellos– this made the tape tracks float in front and superimposed on the rest of the performance. Bit of a shame, really.

Unfortunately things got rather bad during Attack and Fall (from the opera Akhnaten). Even though it might have been the intention of Philip Glass to make the music seem chaotic and overwhelming, the chaos was uncontrolled and the sound cacophonic. Fortunately this was due to a technical error, which was corrected in time for the second part from Akhnaten (after the break).

Apart from that, the performance was very good. The Octet gave prime renditions of e.g. parts from The Secret Agent and the String Quartets, and an overall impressive Funeral of Amenothep (a second piece from Akhnaten). At the end we received an encore, introduced by the charismatic Spanish conductor, Elias Arizcuren (in flawless Dutch, no less): Met zulk een prachtige stemmen kunnen we natuurlijk geen kleine stukjes brengen. Dus u krijgt de hele Funeral opnieuw. (With such beautiful voices [referring to the seven singers necessary for the bits from Akhnaten] it is quite impossible to perform a smaller piece. Therefore we bring you the entire Funeral again.). Yes, please.

(De Bijloke offers quite a few concerts by contemporary composers. I’ll try to up the frequency of my visits.)

album cover
Glass reflections
Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico
» buy the album @ amazon UK

Conducted by Elias Arizcuren
Cellists: Robert Putowski, Artur Trajko, Kepa de Diego, Atie Aarts, Hanneke van de Bund, Esther Iglesias, Fanny Bray, Mikolaj Palosz
Singers: Astrid Lamers, Ilona Stokvis, Ronald Aijtink, Martijn de Graaf Bierbrauwer, Robert Kops, Bert Visser, Jean-Paul van Spaendonk

Programme included:
Parts from The Secret Agent
Façades
Attack and Fall (from Akhnaten)
-break-
Parts from String Quartets 1 & 2
Symphony for eight
Funeral of Amenhotep (from Akhnaten)

nyman contest

There is currently a contest on the Michael Nyman website. It’s a simple draw to get two tickets to the RFH concert on Feb 20th. To participate in the draw, simply send an e-mail to sangam@michaelnyman.com, with your full name and contact details.

The contest closes this Friday, Feb 14 (Valentine’s Day !) at 12 CET

To quote: We have great pleasure to announce Michael Nyman’s London premiere of Sangam: The Meeting Point, a collaboration between Michael Nyman and Ieading Indian musicians U Shrinivas and Rajan and Sajan Misra, to coincide with the Warner Classics release of the album.

The contest is open to everybody, but you will be required to reach the RFH by your own means of transportation.

I’ve received the new album yesterday, and I’m hoping to give you a short review soon.

eagerly awaiting spring

new releases coming soon. with the buzz on most of these already starting Q3 of last year, it’s nearly there. kronos quartet, steve reich, philip glass, michael nyman and gavin bryars all have records for us up their sleeve to be released this spring (or even as soon as february).

information and releases from the Kronos Quartet’s 30th anniversary (cfr under 30 project announcement and call for scores and the review in the san francisco chronicle).

steve reich’s three tales. on that note i’d love to have a dvd release of the cave. from what i understand, a vhs release was talked about, but dismissed by beryl korot (his wife and video-artist). while i understand that the 3d was really important for the cave, it might be a real asset to have this on dvd (surely the possibility of multiple camera angles must appeal to ms korot?).
(see also pop matters for more information about three tales)

philip glass: la belle et la b√çte: announced to be released this spring on criterion. let’s hope is region free.

michael nyman’s sangam. at last something new –well, we’ve been spoiled with facing goya already, but this looks like the upside-down violin (michael nyman band live in concert, 1999), only better.

gavin bryars new (availability of) releases biped (BCGBCD02), lockerbie memorial concert (BCGBCD03), all ten of a man in a room, gambling (BCGBCD04) on his own label gbrecords. thanks to a deal with new note distribution most of his albums will now also sell via e.g. amazon. (i personally can’t wait for all ten pieces of a man in a room, gambling

sangam

a new michael nyman album, entitled sangam: michael nyman meets indian masters is forthcoming in february. sounds very promising to me (something new !?).

you can check it out in the mn discography or preorder it via amazon uk.