The recent Anais Nin is a monodrama for soprano the superb Cristlna Zavalloni and ensemble about the French-Cuban writer who had relationships with her father, the composer Joaquin Nin, and a raft of lovers. The braying chorale builds like the most gleeful of hyperdramatic soundtracks. Tomorrow, tomorrow, begins another romance! They are given expressive voice, both in the film clips and on tape, by the singer Hans Buhrs. You have harmed him.
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Both are pianistic composers who treat the orchestra like a piano—or, relatedly, like a big percussion instrument.
Both use rhythm as a structuring element in ways typically associated with melody. Both are open-minded to the point of eccleticism in their approach to musical form and style. Famed mezzo Cathy Berberian recorded some of these in , as Beatles Arias—an avant-pop prank that manages to stay interesting even after the joke has worn off. A slightly later work like De Stijl has something of the spare, primary angularity of the Dutch aesthetic it names, its saxophone, low-end piano, and electric bass staggered to reveal sharp gradients of color.
De Stijl has moments where something like backbeat comes in, veers into spare, swaggering boogie-woogie and, at one point, a John Barry-like spy riff.
De Stijl was later included as the third part of a larger work, De Materie , whose first section seems like an extrapolation of the metallic chimes that end Les Noces —a color then built up into a dialogue with comparatively warm clouds of keyboard and bass. Bebop syncopation is more conspicuous in a work for amplified string quartet, Facing Death, full of protracted triplet runs of the sort you find in a Charlie Parker solo.
The saxophone section in De Stijl, for example, reminds one of the stiff, robotic syncopations of the opening bars of the Ebony Concerto , which was originally written for Woody Herman; while Facing Death has moments that echo a few bars toward the end of the Octet , where the trumpet is given lines that sound like Henry Mancini scoring a game show. Louis Andriessen.
I must confess I am not convinced by the minimalism tag, though I would be hesitant even to lump Philip Glass and Steve Reich together, since their music sounds nothing alike. Stravinsky strives for a metronomic strictness bordering on rigidity, where Schoenberg indulges in pliable rubato effects.
It amounts to a fun, lively set of syntheses of the well-established dichotomy between musical modernism as magpie eclecticism on the one hand and systematic theorizing on the other a tension which becomes much more dramatic when you consider the difference between two representatives of the succeeding generation, John Cage and Milton Babbitt.
In other chapters, small details set off feats of quirky taxonomy. It is arguably the defining feature of Stravinskian harmony, the fingerprint that makes all the music of a piece rather than neatly divisible into periods. With characteristic sensitivity to the musically interesting rather than deflatingly reductive biographical tidbit, they add that its composition, from , marked the first and last time Stravinsky worked continually for three years on a single piece.
It made crystal clear how neoclassicism is far from any kind of conservatism, rather throwing into relief how new things can be made with old things. The five principal singers return to the stage and, in a Don Giovanni-like address to the audience, explicate the moral of the fable, which turns out to be something like: the devil finds work for idle hands. As might be expected in a book of constant style shifts and self-conscious formal experiment there are many allusions to literary works from the more ludic end of the spectrum.
A single bar from which the whole of the labyrinth may be glimpsed? In the end they decide there is no totalizing interior reflector hidden in the music; Stravinsky is too mercurial, too transient. Ocampo delivered the spoken word part of the oratorio for its Buenos Aires performance in , and Stravinsky was so pleased with her perfectly modulated French that he asked her to tag along for the rest of the tour.
In fact, not enough has been written about the relationship of these two exiled Russians who ended up, by way of Paris, working and living in the U. Botstein also points out how both men became world famous for complex, subtle works that were nevertheless mostly celebrated for their scandalousness Le Sacre, Lolita.
Adorno is clearly a target here, so in the grip of a tendentious and reductive Hegelianism that he was capable of hearing in the tumultuous inventiveness of Le Sacre the coming of the Third Reich! Consider the instrumentation he had originally planned for Les Noces, before arriving at its familiar garb of four pianos and percussion.
It was to be played by four mechanically synced pianolas, making it a first step on the road toward MIDI, the computer music interface first unveiled in the s that allows different instruments to play together via a sort of digital lingua franca.
Before there was Conlon Nancarrow, there was Stravinsky! IRCAM has surely been one attempt at following that path, but at the same time post-serial Boulezian rationalism seems very far from the sort of genealogy sketched in these examples. But the most plainly epigonal of the American Stravinskians was Harold Shapero. To be fair, the nineteen year-old Shapero was at Harvard during the term, when Stravinsky was the Norton Professor, and the star-struck teen showed him his Nine Minute Overture written under the guidance of Walter Piston.
By what hermetic alchemy does a piece cease to be an exercise in pastiche and become uniquely expressive of its own norms and laws? Do composers like Stravinsky and Andriessen make such questions seem beside the point?
The interesting thing about a game is that it has rules, and in the game of music the stricter the rules, the freer the composer, no matter whether it is an ABABCBB song structure or the most diabolic contortions of serialism.
Andriessen: Anaïs Nin & De Staat
Stripped of the usual vibrato and frills, the string section sometimes seems painfully straining at the bow, gnawing at the senses, with a thin, high-pitched whine. The libretto, by film-maker Peter Greenaway, sounds equally uncomfortable in the mouths of the young singers: "I miss your cock-eyed, slippery, rednosed, jumping, long purple-headed prick of a paintbrush," runs one passage. After the rehearsal, and a few terse notes from Andriessen, the performers seem a little unsure of the merits of the piece: "Sometimes it sounds completely horrible," says Erwin Poel, a puckish year-old with spiky blonde hair who sings in the chorus, "the way that the different instruments clash. I really find that very difficult to listen to. The music is certainly very dark and disturbing, but there is a nervous energy about it that draws you in. Since his days as a radical student composer at the Hague Conservatory in , his mercurial talent has been dividing audiences and goading critics.
The four-part De Materie is representative of his bold and manifest operatic activity. In a different way, the delicate Writing to Vermeer , again in collaboration with Greenaway tenderly recomposes baroque music and its wider culture. The solo bass trombone elaborating a descending glissando motive slowly involves another trombone part and the two lines grow into a background structure supporting the singing of the principal character, the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher. Theatre of the World is certainly not the first stage work in which Andriessen is attracted to the grotesque. As a metaphor for mankind, the barge drifts away in an unpredictable direction. It is a Brechtian parody about film, opera, and their interrelationship.
De staat : 1972-'76
Andriessen originally studied with his father and Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague , before embarking upon two years of study with Italian composer Luciano Berio in Milan and Berlin. He later joined the faculty of the Royal Conservatory. He also helped found the instrumental groups Orkest de Volharding and Hoketus , both of which performed compositions of the same names. He later became closely involved in the ongoing Schonberg and Asko ensembles and inspired the formation of the British ensemble Icebreaker. Andriessen, a widower, was married to guitarist Jeanette Yanikian —
Louis the first
Both are pianistic composers who treat the orchestra like a piano—or, relatedly, like a big percussion instrument. Both use rhythm as a structuring element in ways typically associated with melody. Both are open-minded to the point of eccleticism in their approach to musical form and style. Famed mezzo Cathy Berberian recorded some of these in , as Beatles Arias—an avant-pop prank that manages to stay interesting even after the joke has worn off. A slightly later work like De Stijl has something of the spare, primary angularity of the Dutch aesthetic it names, its saxophone, low-end piano, and electric bass staggered to reveal sharp gradients of color.