The Rambler :: blog

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

New music to look out for 

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Since my monthly SPNM newsletter came through today, along with the usual sheaf of flyers, here are my tips for what to listen to live in the coming months (if you, er, live in London that is).

The BMIC's Cutting Edge series is always worth paying attention to. Probably the most important new music series in the city, and regularly an occasion for new Brit experimentalism. All concerts are at the Warehouse, Theed Street, Waterloo. Highlights for me include:

23 September: Three Strange Angels - including works by Reich, Fitkin, Montague and Cage. Three Strange Angels are led by Richard Benjafield (the hardest working percussionist in London?) and Ensemble Bash co-founder Chris Brannick.

21 October: I've never actual seen any of Holliger's music performed live. I've got a CD with him playing one of his oboe studies in overtones, and speaking as an ex-oboist I have absolutely no idea how he makes the sounds he does. Chris Redgate is the kind of player who can approach Holliger's virtuosity, so he's worth seeing anyway. The Holliger piece here is Cardiophony, which uses the live, amplified heartbeat of the performer to form part of the work's rhythm track - so the performance tempo is wholly contingent upon the nerves of the player. Another work here, Ferneyhough's awesome Time and Motion Study II, also uses an amplified performer, this time a cellist. This is not a concert for the meek, or those who don't fancy a bit of musical body fetishism.

If this doesn't floor you, there's a similarly gritty show on the 9 December when Ensemble Exposé (directed by Chris Redgate's brother, composer Roger) roll up to play Dillon, Holliger, Finnissy, Ross Lorraine, Joanna Bailie and Ferneyhough (the fab Etudes transcendentales included in my Music Since 1960 run down).

28 October: Two works here by composers I have academic interests in - Ian Wilson and Krzysztof Penderecki, so I'm compelled to go to this in more than one way... Wilson's Phosphorous is a relatively new work, and one I don't know all that well. Penderecki's Trio (1990-91) belongs to his most recent phase of development which has come since the fall of the Berlin wall, and represents a less sprawling, more capricious phase after the vast neo-Romantic marathons of the 1970s and 80s. It's a neat little piece.

2 December: Juice Vocal Trio. This is a concert including 6 (count 'em!) world premieres, and aside from Meredith Monk and Paul Robinson (neither among those being premiered) I don't recognise a single name on the bill. This counts as a good thing. Writing for vocal trio must be pretty tricky too, so there should be some interesting work here.

And finally, it's a looong way off yet, but Rambler favourite Kaija Saariaho has two works in a free concert (part of the Philharmonia's Music of Today series) on 7th June next year at the Festival Hall - the classic Lichtbogen, and the UK premiere of her flute concerto Terrestre. Top. A little nearer to the present day, the BBC Symphony are performing the orchestral version of her Quatre instants at the Barbican on 1st October, paired with Mahler's 2nd Symphony.

That's enough pluggery for one day ...

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