at the end of a long summer, some collected thoughts on music we'd like to hear 2012 (II)
A curious sense of assemblage to both location and music performed- I get the sense that everyone's first music-we'd-like-to-hear experience becomes tightly bound with the memory of St. Annes+Agnes- many moments of collision, coagulation. Coincidence and construction in equal measure. Two narrow and focused sonic landscapes bookending a variety of topologies for which the nets were thrown a little wider.
Pat Allison's Cha-Cha(anoga) - elegant in its almost immediate apparentness - a simple yet vivid introduction to the space as three clicks on various pieces of wood follow each other around the room. And yet despite the relatively narrow pallette of sounds (all wooden clicks, some dull some sharp, varying degrees of resonance) a sense of assemblage retained- scattered objects participating in the construction of an environment, adhering to a normative distribution and interaction- the piece really made by a few special moments- a few orientations that draw the ear- the most striking of which occured at the beginning of the piece, after the composer had initiated the start of the concert with a few regularly spaced solo iterations, a sudden dovetailing as Ben Isaacs, standing a few feet away, entered, followed by someone on the other side of the room. A shockingly rapid expansion of space, suitably striking and strange introduction to the concert.
"Kunsu Shim's 'Happy for no reason' could be said to be an archetypal 'edges' work in that it allows freedom, feels open, but also, through its defined parameters, enables a level of group interaction in which no-one dominates and everyone is surprised."
A wonderful construction- in two parts of seemingly equal duration- in both instances (happily, it seemed) failing to live up to the programme note. A sense of discomfort with what I'm assuming are the defined parameters of the first section- a haphazard spattering of single, loud, course sounds- the ensemble completely dominated by the violent kicking around of a metal bucket- a more sustained activity that via its drama and potential hazard to the furniture and floor of the church distracted from any sense of space or musical becoming that might have arisen from the rest of the ensemble. The second half a beautifully thick low register drone from most of the ensemble- it seemed as if it only occupied the lower half of the room, settling on the floor like a thick carpet of moss- while the bucket-abuser took to slowly encircling the audience while unravelling a roll of packing tape- crackling intensely as it came off the roll and was stuck to pillars and pews. A similarly dominant activity that this time did allow for a degree of disinterested listening- a really very delicate division of the space that came to an end as the tape-player arrived back at his point of origin- a sonic and visual tapering.
Taylan Susam- for maaike schoorel - sonic material clearly and boldly etched into the silence of the church, a far stretch from maaike schoorel's world of "soft, barely perceptible tones images etc." Left with the sense that the score would be more easily rendered by a smaller ensemble. That said the result here was particularly beautiful - islands of hocketed, melodic activity occasionally connected by a single sustaining (and much quieter) tone (very exciting that this was, at least according to memory, always the same musician)...
Michael Pisaro's fields have ears (4) - an expansive centrepiece - the ensemble alternately sounding and not sounding- sustained or gently iterative sounds- a vast flatness periodically revealed. Little more to say- or remember- other than a sense of the immense complexity arising out of a realisation of this piece with so many performers. A transition (the notion of transition, change) articulated so singularly in the score [in a way, the generative kernel of the piece], but that becomes in no way a belaboured point of the realisation: the many small changes, many small shifts, distracting- providing a mottled surface that allows the piece to unfold just below the limits of conscious perception.
The challenges posed by a performance of Manfred Werder's 2008(1) (the "orchestral" score discussed in Tim Parkinson's interview of Werder, available on youtube) seems to lie more in finding an appropriate performance context than the challenges posed to any one musician having to decide what exactly to do. The piece was hurried in and out, it seemed in an attempt to have it occur before the audience had a chance to collect itself post-intermission.
Joseph Kudirka's British Creepy Crawlies - a synthesis of sorts of all that had come before. A clarity of construction not far removed from Cha-Cha, a lasting resonance of the joyful crudity that had characterised Happy for no reason, a clustering/phrasing reminiscent of for maaike schoorel, and an expansive treatment of time, a vastness closer to Pisaro's field than Susam's miniatures or Shim's bifurcation.
Almost marking a coda of sorts- a complete departure. For Tim Parkinson's songs for many the orchestral instrumental variety and hocketed/dove-tailed textures are dispensed with in favour of two ensembles- one shouting loudly, reminiscent of some of Chris Newman's songs (crude oscillation between two registers), the other striking found percussion instruments to a rhythmic unison, its patterns playful and frequently disrupted as seems characteristic of a lot of Parkinson's percussion/auxhillary oriented music. This stomping and shouting gives way to sustained yelling and found bells before the striking use of a chorus of whistles (deafening) and low drones (string instruments and plastic pipes) from the instrumentalists.
A long fade- Jürg Frey's distinctly nocturnal soundscape- Un champ de tendresse parsemé d'adieux- dry leaves and (very) small stones dropped to the floor occasionally. The introduction of quiet, descending whistles after lets say 10 minutes or so- on occasion amassing into haunting, modulated sonorities. Ears lead around the church once again (much more slowly and softly than Allison's Cha-Cha) and then outside to the similar sonic activities of aeroplanes descending towards Heathrow.
July 12th-August 31st.
photographs from the musicwe'd liketohear facebook page