Note: I see lately on Google some interesting questions and answers regarding the relationship of Modern to Classical. To me Modern music in this context is a contemporary part of the overall Classical Genre, "Modern" referring to the Classical music of the past 120 years or so starting around 1900. But then Classical also refers to a period of Classical music that is associated with Mozart and Haydn, and then again the idea of a Modern Classical is also referring to the state of the art in Classical music today, in terms of performance practices and repertoire. I use all of these senses in this blog and all of them to me illuminate aspects of the optimum listening experience available to us today. Thanks for reading.
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
Modern classical and avant garde concert music of the 20th and 21st centuries forms the primary focus of this blog. It is hoped that through the discussions a picture will emerge of modern music, its heritage, and what it means for us.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Messiaen Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps, Christina Astrand, Johnny Teyssier, Henrik Dam Thomsen, and Per Salo
So there is a new performance of it available and it is a clear contender for the very best of the recordings, Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Our Recordings 6.220679) brings together a remarkably savvy and attuned quartet with the presence of Christina Astrand on violin, Johnny Teyssier on clarinet, Henrik Dam Thomsen on cello, and Per Salo on piano.
The Messiaen Quartet shows us as perhaps never before or since (save the Turangalila) the special tonal and post-tonal synthesis as forwarded by Messiaen in that early middle period. With this Our Recordings performance the Quartet shows so aptly how it all combines for the most haunting sort of expression and completely viral originality, in theme after unforgettable theme. Perhaps, and I do not really want to say this, but I cannot see how else, it took the kind of faith, the unwavering Catholicity Messiaen had ever to be able to respond to the Fascistic prison camp end of time in the way he did, a model perhaps for the musical response that ever should be made in the face of evil and adversity. Take a listen to the seventh movement and how this quartet lets it sing if you want an idea of why I favor this version. This link gives a live version with the same quartet lineup as the album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHb7GK_ZCqM It gives you a good idea of what you'll hear in the studio recording.
So grab a copy of this one if you want to explore this evergreen work or indeed if you want another beautiful take on it. I've loved this work and listened to it happily for upwards of fifty years now. Trust me this recording will send you to where Messiaen hoped you would dwell as you listened. Highly recommended.
Astor Piazzolla, Album for Astor, Bjarke Mogensen, The Danish Chamber Players, Johan Bridger, Mathias Heise
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Cappella Romana, Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation, John Tavener, Ikon of Light
The first disk covers the John Tavener work Ikon of Light in its totality. It is cosmic and deeply meditative, like in some ways Arvo Part meets ancient Orthodox ambient spirituality. The second disk covers Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation, nine short works covering a thematic totality. There are six living or recently living modern day Orthodox composers involved, and all create a sonance worthy of the tradition but too with a present day demeanor despite the traditional garb. It all is breathtaking. In its realization of the spiritual connection between voice and light for both works, we get a music of illumination and shining forth, very primary with its droning and melodic-harmonic denseness. If you know Western Organum, this is the Eastern complement historically and a delight to experience.
The Cappella Romana performs on its own for the second disk and with 45th Parallel Universe chamber group on the Tavener wor. They all excel under the capable leadership of John Michael Boyer. It has beautifully detailed staging and fully immerses you in the deeply inward focus. Bravo.
Stream the album to get a preview of what is in store at this link: https://listn.fm/heavenearth/
Friday, March 10, 2023
Thomas Ades, Marchentanze
It touches upon four musical opus markers, the 2018 :Hotel Suite from the opera "Powder Her Face," the 2016 Lieux retrouves, the 2021 Marchentanze and the 2020 Dawn. The frisson between abstraction and musical reference puts this music in a special Adesian universe we gradually come to know and love in successive listens, not the least being the gorgeous finale of Dawn to set us on our way to some other day-night labors and pleasures.
I would not hesitate with this one. Get a taste of what you will hear on the trailer video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfx1v1WMhB0&t=149s
Thursday, March 9, 2023
Nicholas Chase, Tiny Thunder
The emphasis throughout is on ultra slow, infinitely sustained piano explorations that take their time unfolding into a mysterious world we can sense and dwell in happily for the brief but event-filled vibrancy of the work. The second movement ups the pace yet maintains the hovering mystery of it all.
Chase triumphs. Give it a listen.
Stream it on BandCamp. https://nicholaschase-coldbluemusic.bandcamp.com/album/tiny-thunder
Monday, March 6, 2023
Howard Hersh, A Crown of Feathers, Music for Soloists