[:en]Author Archive[:fr]Archive Par Auteur

14
Apr

All Andriessen, All the Time, at Atlas Performing Arts Center

This here was a tale of two halves, one part of the program devoted to Andriessen’s myriad piano miniatures, the other a trawl through a clutch of (mostly) decades-old big band scores. Rare is it when the spotlight is placed on one of these strands of this Dutch master’s creative practice, rarer still two in a single evening. Far from making for a lopsided recital, though, for the composer’s most hardened admirers this event at Atlas Performing Arts Center on April 9, 2014, will have proved among the most satisfying installments of the Washington-area “Andriessen 75” festival.

Louis Andriessen

Louis Andriessen

[Read more →]

11
Apr

Andriessen 75: A Retrospective at Strathmore Mansion

Strathmore-logo-250wThe retrospective, that staple of the visual arts world, ought to be more popular in new music circles. As was the case with this informal soirée, once again featuring Louis Andriessen’s two most sympathetic collaborators, mezzo-soprano Cristina Zavalloni and violinist Monica Germino, an intelligently programmed autobiographical portrait concert usually says more about a composer’s practice than any of the official PR boilerplate. It was all that at Strathmore Mansion, in North Bethesda, MD on April 8, 2014, in the third installment of the “Andriessen 75″ festival. A peregrination through some of the lesser known byways of the Dutchman’s output – with a few choice cameos from “friends” – it penetrated to the core of the Andriessen ethos in a way that yet another rendition of Hoketus or De Staat never could have.

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: © Francesca Patella)

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: © Francesca Patella)

[Read more →]

10
Apr

No Revolution in Monica Germino’s Roadmaps and Diaries II

Atlas-LogoAn unaccompanied violin recital is a daunting proposition. Without pianistic relief, the listener can tire of the nonstop bariolage. Sans sparring partner, the fiddler is left without a safety net. “Roadmaps and Diaries II,” a touring program devised by electric violinist extraordinaire Monica Germino, split the difference in a performance at Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., on April 7, 2014. This was emphatically a solo affair, but Germino was in constant interplay with a host of spectral doppelgängers – “multiple Monicas,” as the subtitle to Julia Wolfe’s With a Blue Dress On puts it – with most of the pieces calling for back-tracking and the AV wizardry of Frank van der Weij. Ironically, the lone exception was Louis Andriessen’s bracing XENIA. Germino was a member of the Asko Ensemble during the nineties, cutting her teeth on works like Andriessen’s Writing to Vermeer. After she embarked on a solo career, the Hague School padrone wrote La Passione and La Girò for her “trembling violin with electric strings.” Yet “Roadmaps and Diaries II” is Germino through and through: this isn’t the Andriessen aesthetic, not really.

Monica Germino and Frank vander Weij (photo: Elizabeth Melchior)

Monica Germino and Frank van der Weij (photo: Elizabeth Melchior)

[Read more →]

9
Apr

Iconoclast Andriessen’s La Commedia at National Gallery of Art

national-gallery-of-art-logoPerformance spaces don’t get much more “official” than the National Gallery of Art’s palatial West Garden Court in Washington, D.C. Like much of this spectacular, taxpayer-subsidized receptacle for the world’s great artistic treasures, the Garden Court is a monument to democracy’s civilizing force. It’s also an alibi for political power, for an avaricious capital’s investment in the status quo. So it was impossibly ironic that the Garden Court would play host to Louis Andriessen, onetime founder of a “socialist orchestra,” the man who famously dreamed “that musical innovation” might “represent a danger to the State” – one, moreover, who hasn’t mellowed with old age. In 2011, he denounced the epoch’s fetish for “progress,” “economic growth as God,” as so much “bullshit.” Yet there was Andriessen on Sunday April 6, 2014, just before the Great Noise Ensemble’s performance of La Commedia, his summa of a six-decades-long compositional career, lost in thought in front of the Gallery’s most important recent acquisition, Gerrit van Honthorst’s Het concert, conveniently on display in the Garden Court foyer.

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: Francesca Capatella)

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: Francesca Capatella)

[Read more →]

1
Apr

Modernism Out of Season: Adam Roberts’ “Leaf Metal” on Tzadik

tzadik-logo-transparentDoes the word “modernism” still mean anything? The Uptown-Downtown wars of the Eighties are fast fading into memory. The days when Stravinsky’s disciples were tarred with the brush of reaction might as well be ancient history. A John Adams admits grudging respect for Pierrot Lunaire. And not even the most hardened innovators take the imperatives of “historical necessity” seriously anymore. The experimenters and mavericks used to have the aspect of crusaders, as if they had somehow staked a claim to the high moral ground. But “modernism” circa 2014 doesn’t even rise above the level of fashion, style, mannerism. “It’s all relative,” everyone declares, which is tantamount to saying there’s no philosophical or cognitive justification for complexity. Assuming music is a commodity like any other, whose exchange is governed by the laws of the free market, why bother with gnarly sounds? Who needs the headache? Of course, the new music scene isn’t a free market, even in the U.S., but mere cultural capital is still a paltry reward. In this paradigmless, traditionless musical age, where each piece is a desperate wrestling match with the blank page, an endlessly repeated tabula rasa, it’s a wonder any young composer would still lay claim to the “modernist” mantle.

Adam Roberts (L), Javier Hagen (R) - Photo credit UMS n' JIP

Adam Roberts (L), Javier Hagen (R) – Photo credit UMS n’ JIP

[Read more →]

22
Jan

An Echo from Heaven: Orchestral Works of Julian Anderson on LPO

london-philharmonic-orchestra-logoIt’s the simplest thing to come up with a new sound. Sinister resonance, cosmic pulses, aftertones of infinity: whatever you want, any sound you like. Even after a century of Weberns and Lachenmanns, that which is done is not what will be done, and there’s plenty that’s still new under the sun. What’s harder, what takes real chops, what presupposes genuine creative insight, is knowing what goes after that first unheard-of sound. And after that. (And after that.) You might even say it’s where the compositional act truly begins – especially today, when anything is possible and all is permitted. We have a veritable CGI of global musical history at our disposal, which only means that even the most audacious sonic booms will provoke ennui without being assimilated into a convincing compositional narrative. It’s what separates the syncretists from the revolutionaries, Isaiah Berlin’s famous foxes from his hedgehogs.

Julian Anderson - Photo by Maurice Foxall

Julian Anderson – Photo by Maurice Foxall

[Read more →]