Monday, February 27, 2006

Completed Saturday's Guardian crossword in bed this morning. Felt quite smug until I realised that I probably had just spent more time on the crossword than I was planning to spend working.

Listened to the last two editions (11/02 and 18/02) of Hear and Now from Radio 3.
The first was Park Lane Group at 50. It featured George Benjamin, Nancarrow, Kenneth Hesketh, Martin Butler, and too much Michael Zev Gordon. Actually, on the strength of that broadcast, any Zev Gordon is too much Zev Gordon. The Butler was a bit pants too. It was all so depressingly British post-'Manchester school' non-aspirational greyness. Talk about not scaring the audience away - you're going to bore them to death instead.

Read in the Guardian that Tom Adès is a 'colossus of the international music world' hence a retrospective in the Barbican. It really does make you wonder about the critical faculties of the critics in this country. I think that Adès has written some good stuff but I have a horrible feeling he's gone all George Benjamin.

Second broadcast was Mark Anthony Turnage's Blood on the Floor and I have to confess I really didn't enjoy most of it. Admittedly I wasn't particularly open-minded when I started (there's something about the whole improvising jazz musicians with fully notated symphony orchestra that's just a bit... I don't know.... fake?) and I just didn't know what to think about the auto-biographical elements. When you know the story (or at least bits of it), it's a little too emotionally coded for me. Emotive gestures. Clichés. I did find the final section quite touching (Dispelling the Fears). I heard this live at the Proms and it was good then but the commercially recorded version really doesn't do it justice - it robs it of its teeth. This live recording was great and coming at the end of the whole suite, it had more oomph.

All of which avoids the topic of my own music. Had an interesting moment this evening when I was texting D to share with him the information re:Adès (as above) and realised that a lot of this whole polyvalent form for Frisch could be seen to be coming from him. He sent me a couple of scores where the constituent parts can move around (especially in the Cello Sonata). F was the one that thought that three versions would be nice (and he hadn't seen the scores, though we'd discussed them in theory) and maybe my reaction against this suggestion was due to having seen D's own approach. Felt like a Boulez remark coming on: 'There is already enough unknown'.

Tweaked the notation around a bit. Not sure that these long 'pedal' octaves overlapping really communicates much. Will show them to F and to P and see what they think. I just wanted Version A to be the 'purest' version. We'll see...
Found a few mistakes in Version C and thus in Version B. I'll have to go back and change them. If I've gone on record saying that all four versions are the same and then they aren't...

Just got to keep plugging away. Finish this piece, do the odds and ends that need doing to US4, and then I can actually compose some new material again. Can't wait to grapple with the Dead Island Songs for strings. Caught sight of an old score and grew nostalgic about writing for more than one instrument.


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