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 http://www.stradivarius.it/ 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 @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/classical/

what is december.org

Recently I’ve received some comments about december.org. 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. december.org 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 december.org is more about music than it is about tones, more about emotion than reason.

autumn @ nonesuch

It’s about 75 minutes to drive the 75 km to work (from Gent to Brussels). A lot of people tell me they’d be totally stressed out from traffic by the time they’d actually get to work, but I’ve discovered it’s the perfect time to finally listen to some music again. Last Saturday I discovered they stocked the autumn harvest for nonesuch at the fnac, so I was able to spend the week listening to these four discs:

Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet (amazon UK US)

Ingram Marshall’s Kingdom Come (amazon UK US)

John Adams’ El Niño (amazon UK US)

Terry Riley’s Requiem for Adam (by Kronos Quartet) (amazon UK US)

The above order is not at random, but mark my preference (and recommendation) top to bottom. (I will not give you an actual review of these discs, but a gut feeling about them.) I wasn’t too fond of Requiem for Adam, but liked El Niño more. Even so, I’d rather recommend another work of John Adams such as Century Rolls or I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky. El Niño doesn’t seem like Adams enough, but is too reminiscent of Nyman (the opening) and Glass (most of the singing). If you want a recommendation for Riley, try In C (especially if you like Reich) –I have the Ictus Live disc (featuring Blindman Quartet).

Ingram Marshall’s Kingdom Come was a revelation for me (no pun intended) -I’m definitely going to try other work by Marshall. His music is seems so quiet and fragile.

For a must buy, Triple Quartet is really amazing. Then again I’ve always had a soft spot for Reich’s phasing in and out…

2 film music compilations

Just bought Michael Nyman – Film Music 1980 – 2001 for 21.57 EUR; well worth the wait. Mind you, the lady in the store said there wasn’t anything new on it, which is untrue of course. If you ever buy a compilation CD, or need an introduction to the work of MN, this is the CD to buy!

But yes, it is true about the spelling mistakes: it’s MICHEAL Nyman (sic) all over the place. And even though I’m a big fan of Dave McKean, I think the artwork is particularly hideous. Luckily we buy the album for its musical qualities.

The local fnac store also sold the Philip Glass compilation (Philip On Film), and I’m cursing myself for not having bought it. It was ‘only’ about 45.00 EUR (on sale), for which amount you get no less than 5 CD’s (that sell at about 20.00 EUR a piece). Next week… if they still have them.

Michael Nyman – Film Music 1980 – 2001

As of Monday, Film Music 1980-2001 will become available in the (European) stores. The US public will have to wait a bit longer, but you should be able to order it from amazon and cd-now anyhow. CD-Now list it as 29.99 USD (approx. 20.52 UKP or 33.17 EUR), while amazon UK list it for 13.99 UKP (approx 20.44 USD or 22.61 EUR).

Didn’t take me too long to make a choice -or I might hold off until they have it at the local fnac (21.19 EUR) ?