Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We are the children of a universal landscape

billoo has left a new comment on your post If classical music is not live it is dead: 'Pli, thought the most interesting part of that was *why* you think Bach transcends landscape?'
Billoo, your comment certainly exposes my obfuscation. That post originally took a very different direction. Yes, it was about my listening in Morocco which included Bach. But it was sparked specifically by a CD of contemporary music that was on my iPod. But as I wrote, it became clear the path was even more overgrown than usual. So some of the foliage had to be cut back, which left the main thrust as live classical music in the concert hall.

Bach transcends landscape because his music achieves unity with the listener without relying on the crutches of physical and emotional landscape that are an integral part of so much Western classical music. His achievement is the result, depending on your point of view, of either sublime genius or divine intervention. More recently composers have come close to achieving the same unity by consciously dispensing with the baggage of physical and emotional landscape. Jonathan Harvey's string quartets, which I wrote about in New Music in the Paradise Garden, are one example. Another is a new CD of contemporary music for flute that I listened to in Morocco, and which was the true starting point of this path.

Inward brings together music by Dominik Karski, Brian Ferneyhough, Evan Johnson, Malin Bång, Salvatore Sciarrino, John Croft and Richard Barrett played with astonishing virtuosity by Richard Craig. All of the music on the disc is ferociously original, but John Croft's ...ne l'aura che trema for alto flute and electronics and Richard Barrett's Inward for flute and percussion particularly stand out. Inward is a remarkably apposite title for an album that fully engages the listener without reference to physical and emotional landscapes. Fellow blogger Tim Rutherford-Johnson's revue of this important and essential release is well worth reading.

In my original post I quoted Lawrence Durrell as saying "We are the children of our landscape". But if you listen to Inward, as I did in Morocco, while reading William C. Chittick's illuminating essay on Sufism you may find yourself, albeit fleetingly, among the children of a truly universal landscape.

Thank you Billoo for prompting me to say in this post what I meant to write first time around.


Header photo taken near Ourir, Morocco is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2011. Inwards was supplied as a requested review sample. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
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1 comment:

billoo said...

But pli, your explanations always open more doors! Impossible to keep up with you! (I mean that in a good way, of course i.e "second spaces")...this notion of 'baggage' for example...

A few lines, if I may, (which remind me of Rothko) :

"For the soul of the Arab is monotonous-but not in a sense of poverty of imagination; he has plenty of that; but his instinct does not go, like that of Western man after width, three-dimensional space and simultaneity of many shades of emotion. Through Arabian music speaks a desire to carry, each time , a single emotional experience to the utmost end of its reach. To this pure monotony, this almost sensual desire to see desire intensified in a continuous, ascending line that Arabian character owes its strengths and its faults. Its faults: for the world wants to be experienced , emotionally, in space as well; And its strength: for the faith in the possibility of an endless linear ascent of emotional knowledge can in the sphere of the mind lead nowhere but to God."
--M. Asad, Road to Mecca