Entries tagged with “Experimental Music”.
Did you find what you wanted?
Wed 1 Jan 2014
Having let go of my obsessive following of music I still found myself with more than enough great music to listen to this year. Being able to judiciously select what discs (or increasingly preferable, digital files) to buy I found that I liked almost all that I bought. Curiosity and what seems to be a decrease in criticism (R.I.P. Paris Transatlantic, Dusted (though semi-revived) &c) and perhaps the move to more gated preserves from the commentariat did lead to my purchasing a few duds, but I’m sure I missed more good stuff than bought bad. Having lost touch with those dusty corners of the nets where all music finds itself eventually (or even before it hits the virtual shelves) I can only express endless gratitude to Alastair Wilson’s excellent radio programme Admirable Restraint for providing lengthy tastes of music new and old. Alastair has put out a fine collection of new pieces from artists old and new for a good cause for which I can only recommend you dig deep: by gum it’s a compilation. The loss of my record player last year and the refusal to acquire a tape deck (I was buying music during the heyday of cassette and we pretty much despised it then as every playback degraded the tape) has led to a few things missed so let me just add a word of praise for those labels who put their boutique format releases up for digital downloads as well. I think I’ve listened to more solo piano this year than anything everything from Beethoven to Feldman to Jurg Frey to Cage &c &c. I’m happy to report it was a great year for the kind piano musics I like. You’ll see plenty of it represented in the selections below. Finally a hearty thanks to all the musicians, producers, labels, writers and listeners out there (also to all those who compiled their year-end lists early: got a lot of great stuff in just the last few weeks). There is plenty of great vital music being made and if I only listed here what touched me the most deeply out of the small fraction I heard it doesn’t really mean all that much.
David Tudor The Art of David Tudor (New World Records)
When this set was announced there was no doubt in my mind that this would be the release of the year, if not the decade. New World Records epic Music for Merce box set contains excerpts of the bulk of the pieces contained in this set and serves in a way as a sampler and impetus for this set. Throughout my lengthy five part review of Music for Merce I was continuously thrilled to hear these pieces but just as constantly lamented their excerpted nature. More than once I urged New World to release a box set of Tudor’s uncut performances. I doubt that I had any influence on this subsequent release but I can’t say how pleased I am it came about. New World really did yeoman’s work on this set with seven discs spanning the entirety of Tudor’s career from his electro-acoustic interpretation of Cage’s Variations II to Neural Network Plus with it’s complex combination of computer and live electronics.
This set deserves an equally lengthy discussion as Music for Merce but really delving into Tudor’s music demands an amount of research and work that basically hasn’t been undertaken. In my Music for Merce reviews I discuss each of the pieces that were excerpted, all of which are included on this set. Since I don’t do a minute by minute discussion of them they serve quite well regarding these pieces. Of course there are a few things on this set not included there: Tudor’s first major piece Bandonean !, two versions of Rainforest IV, another performance of Variations II that is a welcome edition to the other two available, the epic Cage/Tudor overlaid pieces Mesostics re: Merce Cunningham/Untitled and most notably the Anima Pepsi pieces from the 1970 Osaka World Fair. My preview post of this set upon it’s initial announcement discusses the significance of all of these pieces. Regarding the material shared between the two sets you can find my write up on the these pieces in the following links: Virtual Focus, Neural Network Plus, Phonemes Weatherings, Webwork and Christian Wolff’s For 1, 2 or 3 People.
In trying to analyze Tudor’s live electronic work James Pritchett found himself constructing his own circuits and began to work out how the music works from the ground up (I think this is from this interview: RWM SON[i]A #166). This is the equivalent of doing score analysis for conventionally notated pieces (though a far greater undertaking) and I think a necessary first step in understanding his process and methodology. From there a theory could be worked out (something like my (incomplete) Network Instrument Theory which starts from my electronic music making and builds up). Pritchett eventually gave up on this task which is a shame as it appears no-one else has undertaken it. A book covering the entirety of Tudor’s compositions, similar to Pritchett’s Music of John Cage is I think a needed resource. But for now the music itself will have to serve and this set, while alas still only a portion of Tudor’s work (though the major pieces I think it’s fair to say) does so admirably.
Dennis Johnson November [R. Andrew Lee, piano] (Irritable Hedgehog)
As a reader of Kyle Gann’s always informative and frequently amusing blog, Post Classic, I have been able to follow along with the rediscovery of Dennis Johnson’s November. Remembering November which Gann posted in later 2007 was the beginning of this odyssey and there are quite a few posts documenting his transcription of the piece from a hissy tape and a few notes, to the locating of Dennis Johnson himself (who had “given up on the 21st century in 2007” and thus disappeared from internet communication), to posting an mp3 of himself and Sarah Cahill performing the piece (currently unavailable AFAIK) to finally the release of R. Andrew Lee’s recording on the increasingly indispensable Irritable Hedgehog label. All this posts and many more can be found by searching for November on Gann’s blog.
I downloaded a lossless version of November from Irritable Hedgehog’s Bandcamp page which allows for one to do seamless playback of the nearly five hour piece. It has been played over and over again since that time. It’s meandering spare piano lines becoming increasingly varied with moments of more density, or intensity or lyricism I find endlessly captivating. I’ve listened to it straight through but also have just put on one of the “discs” as I’ve gone to bed. Some nights I hear less than others but there have been those nights where I heard the whole thing. Beautiful music, but more than that as it weathers any degree of scrutiny.
Eliane Radigue Ψ 847 (Oral)
Along with November this album has probably had the most spins in my abode this year. Admittedly this again due to it being amenable to being put on as I attempt to sleep but as with all albums that meet that criteria that simply means that I’ve listened to it in the dark primarily focused on it as sleep remained at bay. This one has been a long time coming as it was recording in 1973 and it initially planned to be released by Halana Magazine years ago in an edited form which of course never materialized. Various reports of concerts featuring the piece mixed live from the original master tapes certainly wetted the appetites of those of us who love her electronic work. So when this was finally announced in a double CD form with a live and studio mix by Lionel Marchetti it was beyond welcome. The piece is another masterful Arp 2500 introspection utilizing spare tones carefully drifting and a bit of tape echo and some really stunning resonant filter ringing. Both versions are fascinating with the live one somehow even more stripped down than the studio. The applause at the end always comes as a shock. Things like this often don’t (or can’t) hold up to the legend and it is doubly rewarding when they do.
Jakob Ullmann fremde zeit addendum 4 · solo III für Orgel (Edition RZ)
The release from last year was Edition RZ’s three CD Jakob Ullmann box Fremde Zeiot Addendum which oddly enough contained a piece of cardboard inside it to prevent the contents from rattling about. It turned out that 2013 brought us a fourth disc that replaces that piece of cardboard and makes this vital set even more tremendous. A piece for solo organ that is heads and shoulders above any contemporary composition I’ve heard for the instrument since Messian. There have been a number of attempts to do highly minimal music on the church organ that to my ears have really fallen flat. This instrument, which I love so much, has really proven an insurmountable challenge to apply to this domain. Until now that is. Ulmann’s piece and the masterful playing of Hans-Peter Schulz beautifully recorded by Edition RZ finally reveals this unrealized potential of the instrument.
Michael Pisaro Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds [Greg Stuart, perc] (Gravity Wave)
This one was one of those I got late in the year but I am sure glad I did. As a long time fan of pure tone music from the clinical precision of Alvin Lucier to the all encompassing intensity of Sachiko M, to the piercing interiority of Mitsuhiro Yoshimura (not to mention my own explorations) this has long been a domain I’m fascinated with. Hewing closer to the Lucier mode of operation (and indeed the piece is dedicated to him) with a very precise composition utilizing electronic sine tones of specific duration in concert with the inherent variability of bowed metal. Michael Pisaro put it this way on his blog:
The physics of the crotale are very interesting, since like all metal instruments, its actual motion is relatively chaotic. It is not the absolutely stable and regular sound that it appears to be, but has fluctuating character, perhaps a bit like the reflected glare of any shiny object.
The piece was composed at percussionist, and frequent Pisaro collaborator, Greg Stuart’s request and his performance here is nothing short of inspired. The combination of the bowed crotals and the uncompromising electronic tones is just a shear physicality. Those of us who already appreciate Sachiko or Lucier already know that sine tones of sufficient cycles beat in your ear and undermine your sense of balance as well as subtly varying and shifting as you move around and this album delivers these effects in spades. But it isn’t nearly as clinical as Lucier often comes across as though it is as precisely defined as his pieces. The crotales I think are the special sauce here and Stuarts virtuosity.
Antoine Beuger Sixteen Stanzas on Stillness And Music Unheard [Greg Stuart, perc] (l’innomable)
At the same time I received Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds I also received this disc. Which like the aforementioned Pisaro composition this one also involved Greg Stuart bowing metal, this time the chimes on a vibraphone. The recording is very quiet and slowly increases in volume across it’s duration. Like the crotales of the previous entry the bowed vibraphone has a very pure almost electronic sound but with a bit of warmth of instability. The music here is far less physical – the lack of high register, relentless electronics means there is only the acoustic sounds – but it is achingly beautiful. Less demanding and intense it is an excellent companion piece and probably my favorite composition yet from Antoine Beuger.
Keith Rowe/Graham Lambkin Making A (Erstwhile Records)
2013 has seen the fewest releases from Keith Rowe in years with this collaboration with Graham Lambkin being one of the few. This duo was put together by Jon Abbey of Erstwhile records and interestingly the two musicians independently decided to primarily utilize contact microphones and drawing supplies. Keith has been placing contact mic’s on his table and drawing with charcoal on it for some time now (I think I first witnessed this in 2008 at the Amplify fest in Kid Ailack Hall) and the whispery scratches have become a feature of his sound world. With Lambkin utilizing similar technique as well as the brittle, mid-range nature of contact mics this is truly an album of layers. Another layer is that the second track, the titular Making A, is a Scratch era composition by Cornelius Cardew erstwhile Rowe comrade. I can’t say that much of Lambkin’s work has appealed to me and I was a bit skeptical by this collaboration (though always curious). But once again Abbey’s ear for duo’s has born fruit and this really is a remarkable recording, one that I’ve returned to again and again throughout the year.
John Cage Variations V (Mode Records)
It’s sort of surprising how much Cage is still unavailable especially from his electronic period. Only in the last couple of years was Variations VII made available and it took until this year for Variations V to be available outside of special order from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. A truly collaborative piece, it involved sound sources monitored by Cage, Tudor and Mumma trigged by the MCDC. The piece is the dance, is the live electronics is the composition. It of course inherently indeterminacy due to the live electronics, thee variability in the spaces performed and in the dancers not to mention the fragility of the electronics. This excellent DVD from Mode presents a German Television shows broadcast of an in studio performance those allow us to experience this truly multimedia piece with the dance and video by Nam June Paik and Stan VanDerBekk as well as (occasionally) see the musicians working their electronics. It also includes an audio only recording from a live performance earlier in the tour which I think helps to understand this continually variable piece. Two interviews with dancers Carolyn Brown and Sandra Neel with Gus Baker provide some context, add details and more than a few amusing anecdotes.
Haco/Toshiya Tsunoda TramVibration (skiti)
I am in agreement with many that Toshiya Tsunoda is one of very (very) few field recordists doing vital work but even he has as many duds as successes. It seems to be his more conceptual pieces that turn out to be more interesting in concept than in execution so I was naturally skeptical about this recording he made along with Haco of a moving tram (I also was confusing Haco with a vocalist and I couldn’t imagine how that would work). However I was willing to watch this video, The Tram Vibration Project, to get a sense of how this turned out. I pretty much immediately ordered this disc after watching it. Of all the releases I heard from 2013 this one seems the most sound focused. It is about finding the sounds of this tram as it moves along. It’s structured by the trams passage and the choices of where to place one’s microphones (and apparently massive editing by Tsunoda). And what a rich world of crackles, hums, shakes, rumblings and other indescribable and downright fascinating sounds are revealed here. Watch the video, it is much better than anything I (or anyone) could write on this one.
John Tilbury/Oren Ambarchi The Just Reproach (Black Truffle)
John Tilbury’s magnificent touch on the piano and his effortless shifting from the abstractions of the body and insides of the piano, to pure romantic lyricism are fully present and are indeed the core of this album. Oren Ambarchi though gives this music it’s spine with a deft touch and breathtaking subtlety. One can’t help but think of Tilbury’s collaborations with Keith Rowe but the only similarity here is perhaps those moments before Keith has really begun to play and the buzzing and hums of his setup provide a tapestry upon which the piano rests. Ambarchi barely adds more than that grounding but mines that background radiation for all that it’s worth. The few times he surfaces are in delicate counterpoint to Tilbury’s playing and it almost comes across as the piano resonating into alien space.
This alas was a vinyl only release but happily the kind folks at Beatport have made it available for lossless download which you can find here: The Just Reproach.
and the rest
Graham Stephenson/Aaron Zarzutzki Touching (Erstwhile Records)
John Cage Solo for Piano [Sabine Liebner, piano] (Wergo)
Eva Maria Houben Piano Music [R. Andrew Lee, piano] (Irritable Hedgehog)
Bryn Harrison Vessels [Philip Thomas., piano] (Another Timbre)
Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers Boring Embroidery (Cathnor Recordings)
John Cage The Ten Thousand Things [I Ching Edition] (Microfest Records)
Toshiya Tsunoda O Kokos Tis Anixis (edition.t)
Meridian Hoquet (Accidie Records)
Eduard Artemiev Solaris Original Soundtrack (Superior Viaduct)
Sat 24 Aug 2013
Posted by hatta under My Music
Sun 21 Jul 2013
This weekend was the third iteration of the yearly Substrata Festival of which I attended the final night. The festival has always been held at the Chapel Performance Space in conjunction with Wayward Music and being on their mailing list I’ve been aware of it from it’s conception but this was my first time attending. Every year there has been one or two acts I’d have been interested in seeing, but being a festival that would of course mean sitting through the rest, some of which were distinctly not to my taste. These festivals are put on by the ambient musician Rafael Anton Irisarri and have proven to be popular enough that they sell out fairly quickly which considering the space is certain to lead to a hot crowded experience. This years festival, which has been expanded to three days, was no exception except that the third day wasn’t sold out when last I got a mailing from Wayward Music and Kim Cascone was closing the festival. I haven’t really kept up with Cascone’s work, but back in the early days of my interest in various experimental forms he had a number of releases I was pretty into. I also have been aware that his recent work is more along the lines of acoustic experiments utilizing beating patterns and acoustical phenomenon which is certainly something I find fascinating if not a primary interest of mine. Since I could secure a ticket online and the other performers on this night, neither of whom I’d heard of, sounded at least interesting I went for it.
Of course the other thing worth mentioning is that this festival is basically ambient music and while I’m not adverse to the form, there really are few outstanding examples of it. The festival is driven by Irisarri’s tastes and has grown to include post-minimalsim as well as an eclectic mix of electronica and hybrid compositions. The materials provided by the festival read rather like an ‘artists statement’ (with all the connotations that implies):
Our goal is to create an immersive weekend experience that engages the audience in a dialog with the artists that goes beyond the constrains of traditional performer/listener interactions. Each showcase is curated to distinctly portrait different takes of the potency of minimalism, varying between weighty combinations of tonalities used to sculpt out atmospheric ambiance, or powerful dynamic structures made up of the subtlest filigree of sonic building materials. By creating compositional spaces dealing with a sense of mass, along with openness of structure, the perspective of scale and the listener’s place in relation is shifted to allow for greater a sense of place beyond the environ of the performance in the interplay of the moment and physics of the larger world. In all, Substrata is an event that fosters appreciation for our natural surroundings and creates meaningful interaction between artists/participants while exploring a new locality.
As the name substrata implies, it is about subtle aesthetics that go beneath the surface and into deeper aural territories.
Saturday July 20th was as nice an evening as can only be found in the Pacific NW. A beautiful sunny day with temps in the uppers 70s (F) by the time I arrived at the Chapel the sun was beginning to dip behind the Olympic Mountains. There was a lot of people here and the wait for the doors to open in the lobby was a hot and sweaty, though happily short, experience. Once we were all inside the Chapel itself wasn’t completely packed and it wasn’t oppressive it at all, especially with the cooling air blowing in from all the open windows. I got a seat a few rows back by a pillar that created a gap that allowed for an easy escape if that proved necessary and was relatively centered. I would have liked to have sat by the windows as I think that would have added greatly to the experience but felt that for the Cascone piece I’d want to be inside the surround sound setup. They had very defined times for each act and apart from starting a bit late maintained that schedule fairly closely.
1) Christina Vantzou
Christina Vantzou is a an American multimedia artist/composer who is now based in Brussels. She introduced the string trio and harpist who would be playing the numerous mostly short (unidentified) pieces on this evenings program and then returnign to her laptop kicked things off with a loud, overbearing synth pad. The pieces were almost all constructed of her playing multitrack recordings on her MackBook while the string trio and harpist played along. The tracks she trigged mostly consisted of rather loud pads and washes plus the occasional sustained vocals worked into multitrack choirs. The musicians were pretty good and several of the pieces where they were more dominate I thought were the more engaging. Their playing was usually fairly long sustained, usually unaffected tones. Even the harpist bowed her instrument in the first piece though after that she played mostly rather staccato notes. Vantzou also “conducted” these pieces, sort of “dancing” around doing rather Butch Morris-esque conducting.
Along with this there was also rather cliched video such as a slowed down candle flame and slow pans of a girl in a church and so on. This it appears was done by an unrelated “video artist” and accompanied most of the performance in the festival.
2) Michal Jacaszek
Michal Jacaszek is a Polish “electro-acoustic composer” who for this show at least appeared to be laptop DJ-ing along with a harpsichord (Kelly Weyse) and clarinets (“Crystal” Beth Fleenor). Rather Saule like in his DJ-ing though with perhaps not quite as good of choices. He used lots of acoustic instrument samples and was perhaps processing and sampling the two live instruments but it did seem that barring improvisation from the instrumentalists (which did not seem to be the case) he could have just played their contributions along with multitude of other elements he was utilizing. Often fairly loud and dense each peice always had a point (or two) were everything dropped out to a bare minimum and then rebuilt in a different direction. Overall fine with some nice moments, typically involving the harpsichord and bass clarinet interacting with the more worn way, fractured less beat-driven samples.
The video that was played along with Jacaszek included lots of slowed down water images and some forests shots but also some bad cg effects and cartoony figures with Afteraffects fliters applied to them.
3) Kim Cascone
In the booklet that accompanied the festical was a good four pages of bio and rumination from Kim Cascone. In it he goes through his history with meditation and developing “heightened awareness” especially w/r/t listening. It even includes a series of exercises for you the listener to go through. I have to say that while I’m sympathetic to his goals here I can’t help but wonder if it is perhaps not better to just let the listener find one’s own way there? It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the performance, though this, along with his introduction of the piece as “aural meditation”, did add a ponderousness to it that I do not think is inherent to the sounds. Cascone sat in the very middle of the surround sound speaker setup which also included a huge sub-woofer right in the middle of the room. Equipped with just a laptop and mixer he played for about 30 minutes in the dark with no video playing. We were instructed to sit with our eyes closed and focus on our breath which I did. He also told us that since this wasn’t really music there was no need to applaud at the end. The sounds were all beating tones at first pretty intense and then of varying intensities as the sounds shifted. Typically he’d pick a pattern, which all resolved itself in your head into hyper-rythmic oscillations, sometimes with higher pitched stuff seeming to swirl about at an upper level, other times just a single repeated sound. This he’d let play out for a decent amount of time, at least five minutes I’d say – this would be about six different sounds over the thirty minutes which seems about right. There was definitely those interesting physical sensations of vibrating in the ear that you get with these acoustic experiments. I agree with his assessment that it’s not really music per se – that is he was more or less just presenting one acoustical phenomenon after another – but it was fascinating and completely engaging. It just being thirty minutes was also a wise choice; too much might get tedious and this seemed just the right amount to keep one interested and engaged the whole time. Good stuff and while not a very effective aid to meditation IMO (the highly rhythmic nature tends to force you into a pattern that is contrary to natural breathing, which rather undermines the “focus on breath” aspect) it was a good focusing experience. It probably would have been aurally interesting to have been able to walk around during the performance but I certainly respected his setting of the events parameters.
Sat 15 Jun 2013
The second day of the Wandelweiser + Bozzini concerts was once again at Open Space in Victoria B.C. My report on the first day of concerts can be read here: Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria, day 1 and my introduction to these concerts here: Wandelweiser in Victoria. Day 2 was another beautiful sunny day in Victoria which made for very pleasant concert environment with the sounds of the harbor – including some seriously baritone ship horns – and the pleasantly warm sunlight.
The afternoon concert featured two composers that I was completely unfamiliar with Thomas Stiegler from Germany and Daniel Brandes from right here in Victoria B.C.. Daniel, whom I talked to briefly before this concert (and also on Twitter) I would describe as a second generation Wandelweiser composer; a student of Antonie Beuger he definitely seems to be in that lineage. Of course this being the only piece of his I’ve heard can’t expound on his body of work, but from what I heard here I think that to be the case. Thomas Stieger, though his bio is rather brief on the Wandelweiser site, would seem to be an early member of the collective. He’s trained and works as a physician but his CV lists him winning a composition prize in 1997, not too long after the founding of Wandeweiser. It was nice to have an introduction to two new composers especially in a live context which seems to be the best way to experience this music.
Wandelweiser + Bozzini at Open Space, Victoria B.C.
Quatuor Bozzini: Clemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini, Mira Benjamin
Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble: Jürg Frey, Thomas Stiegler, Antoine Beuger, Daniel Brandes
Daniel Brandes, Jürg Frey (obscured) Thomas Stiegler, Stéphanie Bozzini, Clemens Merkel, Isabelle Bozzini & Mira Benjamin
Concert #3 Sunday, June 9, 2013, 2:30 p.m.
1) Daniel Brandes a tenuous “we” (2013)
performers: Jürg Frey (clarinet), Antoine Beuger (flute), Thomas Stiegler (viola), Stefan Maier (guitar), Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola), Isabelle Bozzini (cello), Mira Benjamin (violin))
This piece was for the largest ensemble of the series and included the entire Bozzini Quartet along with Stiegler, Beuger and Frey and for his only performance of the weekend Stefan Maier playing electric guitar. Maier played his guitar with eBow generating long, sustained low tones. Likewise for the other instruments, with long drawn out, barely affected tones. There was also a set of text fragments, which were included in the series program, that were read out by the performers. The vocal performances were akin to that of the Beuger piece from yesterday, all murmured and hummed and rather self-consciously performed. Considering that Brandes was a student of Beuger this seems a pretty direct influence here. It also makes me wonder how deliberate that vocal performance style is. As I noted in my thoughts on the Beuger piece I’m not very taken by this type of vocal performances and this held for this piece. Otherwise I found the long, shifting instrumental lines rather pleasant and I found the piece quite accommodating to the sounds of seagulls and several conversations from the mezzanine down below. Especially at the times when the piece was purely instrumental – which as I assume the material of the piece was gone through at the performers desecration was arbitrary – did it seem to almost provide a background “wash” for the compelling exterior sounds.
Here’s a selection of the text fragments used in the piece:
1. nobody else could hope, except for those who grieve
3. enter the silence again, in the midst of words
4. loss has made a tenuous “We” of us all
9. only a poem could bring the grief to notice. the poem, so urgent and so fragile
2) Thomas Stiegler
Gelbe Birne III (2008) (violin, clarinet, violoncello)
Treibgut 1/2 (2011) (violin, violoncello)
Gelbe Birne VI (2013) (string quartet, world premiere)
Und.Ging.Außen.Vorüber (I) – for 3 voices and 3 radios (2005)
Performers: The first three pieces performed by Quatuor Bozzini and subsets
Und.Ging,Außen.Vorüber (I) – for 3 voices and 3 radios (2005) performed by Jürg Frey (voice), Antoine Beuger (voice), Thomas Stiegler (voice)
The rest of the afternoon program was pieces by Thomas Stiegler. These were all very short except for the last two. I should note that the program lists these pieces in a different order (the string quartet first) but according to my recollection (and notes) the string quartet, which was the longest of all the pieces was final piece before the piece for 3 voices. My notes weren’t very good for this part of the concert, which I’ll replicate here:
• The first piece rather pointillistic and very short < 100 notes
• The second piece made me think of Lachenman with it’s scratchy extended techniques and rather staccato style. Again a short piece only a few minutes.
• Quartet long, vibrato-less drones that went on for a long time and unraveled at the end with rapid dry bowing and then an abrupt simultaneous end.
• Frey, Stiegler, Beuger – each reading fragments of words and such in German. Frey seemed to be almost just reading syllables and Beuger repeated single words and in the middle Stiegler The speakers were then joined by the titular 3 radios toward the end, which were playing randomly tuned Victoria stations – mostly pop music. The speakers kept it up in the same fashion they had been reading, though a bit haggard at this point.
I have to admit I wasn’t taken by the short pieces, or by the text piece. I did enjoy the longer string quartet quite a bit. It was rather drone-y with a single note played by the players in an unaffected style. This continued for a long time varied only by subtly beating tones until the last minute or so where they shifted to these rapid shorter attacks and it had the feeling of coming apart at the seems and then suddenly ending. Really interesting piece and one the fit into the space really well.
Clemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini & Mira Benjamin
Concert #4 Sunday, June 9, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
1) Antoine Beuger little more than a whisper (2010)
Performers: Jürg Frey (Clarinet) & Antoine Beuger (flute)
A primarily soft, gentle piece that structurally seemed rather call and response, that is they seemed to play in reaction to each other. In this it seemed like some Christian Wolff pieces I’m familiar with where the instructions are that your options are informed by what you are hearing from your partners in the performance. The sounds were mostly rather short tones with the occasional scales and a small amount of extended technique – tongue clicks and over-breathing and the like. There was one or two slightly loud bits, that is to say louder than the overall softness, that seemed to be in reaction to something the other had done. There’d be something from say Jürg and you’d see a slightly quizzical expression from Antoine which he’d respond with something that would slip into slightly louder territory. Really engaging and charming piece.
Antoine Beuger little more than a whisper score
After the concerts I took a peek at the score and it did seem to have the elements of interaction that I sensed there. I took a (bad) cameraphone picture of it which if you squint hard enough you might be able to make out some of. But the instructions are that the performers alternate sounds, they should be uniformly soft and the that alternated sounds should constitute a phrase. I like the instruction that between the phrases there should be “some silence to allowing the previous phrase to resonate in memory“.
2) Jürg Frey Streichquartett 3 (2010-12)
Performers: Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola), Isabelle Bozzini (cello), Mira Benjamin(violin))
The final piece of the concert series was a string quartet from Jürg Frey. Now I should note that in my initial introduction to the Wandelweiser Ensemble one of the recordings I listened to was Frey’s String Quartet Disc on Edition Wandelweiser Records and I didn’t care for it at all. While I have gotten into the works of many other Wandelweiser composers (Pisaro and Beuger especially) I’d really not delved much further into Frey’s works. In this concert series it was his pieces that I enjoyed the most (along with the Pisaro) and was the most revelatory to me. So I was quite interested to hear this String Quartet – would it be how I recalled his earlier ones, or more in line with the piece of his I’d heard the day before? The piece was rather Feldman-like sharing his penchant for beginning and ending abruptly, utilizing lots of unison playing and was of course overall soft but not extremely so. I found this to be a nice piece and found it to be another highlight of the weekend. While not as long as a late Feldman piece – it was around 30 minutes perhaps – it did have several different sections to it. Along with the aforementioned unison play there was some solo violin from Clemens Merkel and some very dry rustling playing from the whole group. There were some sections that had a melancholy melodic feel, reminding me a bit of Mihaly Vig’s Werckmeister Harmonies score. I felt it was of a nice length, deliberately paced throughout with no real dramatic moments. I wouldn’t have complained if it had been a longer even.
And that was that. Another weekend of music done and as with all concert series it had pieces I enjoyed more than others. But it is always welcome to get to hear new pieces from new composers especially in a live situation. Nothing I felt was horrible or hard to sit through or anything like that – some things were just more to my taste than others. With the nature of the entire series even for pieces that didn’t grab me it was was pleasant in context to the surroundings and environmental sounds. It was a lovely weekend in Victoria and it was great to be introduced to Open Space, which I am sure I will be attending concerts at again.
Christopher Reiche, Daniel Brandes & Thomas Stiegler
There was again a Q&A following the afternoon concert this time with Daniel Brandes and Thomas Stiegler again hosted by Christopher Reiche of Open Space. It was again mostly questions from the audience with a few from Reiche. I had a harder time transcribing this one but I’ll again paste in what I was able to jot down again with a few corrections, clarifications and not much commentary.
Day 2 Q & A
? About the radio
Stiegler – Talked about the text, but I missed most of it. From artists with disabilities.
? about the durations
Stiegler – First couple pieces short and commissions, The quartet was written fast about a woman who died at 40. Put together with other short pieces.
Brandes – His piece not of fixed duration includes the instruction ‘duration: ends somehow’ he works with Beuger and he also had a piece with that direction. This Music is supposed to be immersive and a duration would impose he felt.
Clemens Merkel (Bozzini violinist) – mentioned they just recently replaced two short pieces with the long Stiegler quartet which begins with sustained Es.
? a subversive performer could refuse to let the peice end, would at not be in the spirit of the music?
Brandes – I find this peculiar notion of the subversive performer; would have to dislike me a lot to go to all the trouble. It’s about creating a sense of community of navigating this space together. Questions arise of how to begin, how to end how to play together. If players love the piece thy will find a way to end. (Long pause)
? why do you choose the specific material?
Stiegler – A piece without pitches (the long quartet IIRC) this was inspired by seeing a similar piece at a festival.
? community keeps coming up. How to foster that beyond the concert space
It’s music playing or listening teaches us something if you are sensitive to the situation, about gentleness, caring and such.
All my photos from the concerts can be found here: Wandelweiser + Bozzini photoset on Flickr