"It's up to thought to take possession of whatever disables it", writes Michel Surya.
And it's up to music to compose with whatever divides it.
Musical writing is at a junction: buckling under the weight of its own history,
today it is confronting demanding partners that have been shaking it up.
Electronic, dance, sounds, pop songs, performance, strange objects. It's a bit of a shock.
A sort of over-stimulation ensues, a hyperkinesia. We flap about like flies.
But this isn't enough to kill the spirit of the music.
And it demands its due: a slow background, a concentration, a patient weave
— everything which enables a form to emerge. This is challenge we are faced with!
This newsletter is much too long. Too bad: it had to be done in order to illustrate what we've just been talking about.
Wolfgang Mitterer. New production at the 'Opéra de Lille'.
Precise, lavish, rich in micro-details that constantly revitalise the listening experience, Wolfgang Mitterer's electronic sounds go perfectly with the narrative of an opera. After the slightly punkish treatment of Elizabethan theatre ("Massacre", inspired by the work of Christopher Marlowe, 2003), Mitterer joined forces with the Austrian writer Gerhild Steinbuch to create a post-apocalyptic fiction steeped in medieval legends.
In a world rent asunder by a dreadful melancholy, ruled by a King Arthur who has been rendered powerless, bewildered, some crazy redeemer has made all the children disappear... The only remaining child is the Queen's daughter, Marta, an ageless doll, whose hair is continually being combed by her mother. Within her glass cage, Marta is given over for the adoration of the people: the final vestige of a doomed world. Poised between sleep and fear, between lynching and fires, in the blinding glare of an irradiated world, death is spreading relentlessly.
A new choreography by Maud Le Pladec.
A war of nerves: an hour full of repetitive, violent and dissonant music, akin to an aviary of mechanical birds. However, the New York composer Michael Gordon is not adopting a vulgar minimalist approach. No, as an authority on wielding stumbling rhythms he employs an immeasurable delicacy in the art of blurring the beat. The choreographer Maud Le Pladec — with Sylvie Mélis in charge of the lighting — has shaken the margins: at the crossroads between a choreographic work, a light show, a concert and an installation, CONCRETE is about non-hierarchical simultaneous rationales (involving music, dance and lighting) that are all subject to the same fervour.
THE LICHTENBERG FIGURES
An evening with Eva Reiter.
In 2004 the poet and novelist Ben Lerner published “The Lichtenberg Figures”, a stunning collection of sonnets combining dialogues, trivial observations, jokes, introspective witticims, academic notes,… that accelerate the thought processes to the point of dizziness. Eva Reiter has built upon this to compose a “book of ayres”, featuring seven songs for an electronically processed voice and a highly electrified instrumental ensemble (Reiter’s nanny, it is sometimes said, would listen to Romitelli while feeding her charge). Nico de Rooij and Djana Covic were responsible for the set design and lighting for this “high-precision fantasy”.
An evening with Eleanor Bauer.
Music, singing, dancing, bantering with the audience: choreographed by Eleanor Bauer the Meyoucycle (Me-you-cycle) provides an evening of performance and music that Bauer herself describes as “seriously generous”. Three performers, four musicians and as many composers assembled around a “smart, brave and gifted” artist; as the New York Times referred to her.
MITTERER BY NIGHT (avec Marc Ducret)
At the 'Opéra de Lille' and in Bozar : jam !
A jam session put together by Wolfgang Mitterer, the Viennese composer, organist and maestro of electronic music. Joining us for this occasion will be the experimental blues performer Marc Ducret, one of the biggest names on the contemporary jazz scene, and Cédric Dambrain, who has designed a system of high-tech regulators derived from surgical research activities, to “enhance” the musician’s body and hybridize it with his synthesisers. At the Opera House in Lille, and then restaged at the Bozar in Brussels.
FOR PHILIP GUSTON
In Buenos Aires, a four-hour work by Morton Feldman for flute, resonant percussion and piano. Never-ending repetition, always in a different place, with the memory in mild disarray. Feldman’s objection to the imperious Will of Western music took the form of what he called “a silent protest”.
PIERLUIGI BILLONE (percussion music)
“Concert du mercredi” at the Opéra de Lille.
Mani. Matta, for marimba, 2 log drums, woodblock, china gong | Mani. Gonxha, for 2 tibetan sounding bowls | Mani. De Leonardis, for four automobile springs and glassussie solo | Tom De Cock, solo percussion
AMERICAN LAMENT (studio version)
With Liesa Van der Aa.
Two days in the Kaai studios with Tom Pauwels and Liesa Van der Aa, the young star of Flemish experimental pop. The composers Trapani (born in 1980) and Polansky (born in 1954) have achieved a remarkable outcome here, the like of which has not been heard since Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs: a tribute to popular music that is steeped in respect, warmth and extraordinary refinement.
AMERICAN LAMENT (ensemble version)
In the Handelsbeurs, Gent.
American Laments can be considered as an ode to the blues, sung by two different voices : the classically trained voice of Christie Finn who’s at the same time very much easy with vocal techniques specific four Country music, and the voice of Liesa Van der Aa, a young singer/violinist who can be considered the leading lady of the Belgian experimental pop scene. Both performing works by Christopher Trapani and Larry Polanksy…re-writing popular American music, re-connecting with a just-intonation tradition as explored by Harry Partch and Lou Harrison…
Sciarrino at Concertgebouw, Bruges.
In Bruges with Katrien Baerts (soprano): Salvatore Sciarrino’s Aspern Suite.
With lyrics by Lorenzo da Ponte (Mozart’s librettist), the composer brings us the muted tones of a ghostly Venice. Although Sciarrino’s music can be described as contemplative, such a depiction also has to contend with the disturbing image of a motionless noontime atmosphere, trembling, overwhelmed by light, where “too much reality” casts doubt on one’s existence – and our ability to reason.
SONGS OF DESPAIR AND HOPE
Carefully amplified, the music produced by George Crumb’s piano, emanates from inside the instrument as much as it does from the keyboard, to become a harp, glockenspiel, koto or vibraphone. Mingling with the resonant tones of the four percussionists, this “expansion of the pianistic horizons” invites listeners into a hall of mirrors where everything is hovering, reflecting and splitting. A touch of tonality, a touch of modality, and invariably exquisitely blurred, Crumb’s music conjures up fictional worlds, submerged memories and forgotten rituals.
With the “Songs of Despair and Hope”, the composer has arranged and harmonised a series of Afro-American spirituals. The evening performance stars the magnificent Spanish soprano Raquel Andeuza. A concert within the context of 'Mechelen Hears Voices' (sic)
JÜRG FREY : STRING QUARTET #2
more Lille !
"Here Frey uses extended techniques to create a very quiet, soft, almost noteless grey soundworld within which brief passages of bowed sound exist for two or three seconds, each interspersed with a second or two of silence, but again with the sounds used gradually shifting across time. This is hauntingly beautiful music. The playing resembles an ethereal vocal ensemble more than it does a string quartet." (Richard Pinnell)
WORK | TRAVAIL | ARBEID
Vortex Temporum, the choreographic work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker based on the work of the same name by Gérard Grisey, has been completely revamped for the “white box” of a museum. In the wake of its overwhelming success at Wiels Arts Centre last season, the work is returning there for three days this September.
And more Rosas !
According to the De Morgen newspaper “You very rarely see works that are as elegantly beautiful as this, even in the case of Rosas. It is definitely in a class of its own”.
The continuation of the world tour of this choreographic work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, created in 2013 and inspired by Gérard Grisey’s enchanted sextet.
UN SACRE DU PRINTEMPS
By Daniel Linehan
In the French newspaper Libération, Eve Beauvallet wrote “While the spectator is confronted with a miniature theoretical treatise on the dialogue between dance and music, Daniel Linehan manages to make it look like child’s play”.
In this version for two pianos, “The Rite” becomes “a Rite” that is profane, edgy and playful.
Rosas forever !
Drumming, a choreographic work created in 1998 by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker with music for percussion by Steve Reich, was a truly remarkable achievement. The choreographer subsequently spoke of its being a “sudden harvest”: everything that had been gathered in terms of writing techniques, often based on musical counterpoint, suddenly exploded to become a breathtaking abundance, within a theatrical panorama that was too much for our eyes to take in
— boundless, just like life itself.
And Drumming is still on tour!
Gerd Van Looy, Tom Pauwels, Jean-Luc Plouvier