Thursday, August 04, 2011

Whatever happened to classical music's long tail?

'Sound experiments are part of daily life for a baroque orchestra. Because more so than their "modern" cousins, historical instruments offer numerous possibilities for sounds that are equally valid.'
Much discussion here recently about the dangers of specialisation in classical music and the quote above comes from a Baroque ensemble that proactively works against specialisation. Although 17th and 18th century music remains the core territory of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (Freiburger Barockorchester) their repertoire has expanded to include classical, romantic and contemporary works. In an enlightened experiment in 2004 the Freiburg Orchestra commissioned new compositions from five leading young composers, Michel van der Aa, Juliane Klein, Rebecca Saunders, Benjamin Schweitzer and Nadir Vassena. The project actively encouraged the composers to explore the sonic possibilities and challenges of a conductor-less Baroque orchestra; the commissions were given in concerts at various European venues in 2005/6 and the performances were recorded for release on the CD seen above.

As Benjamin Schweitzer explains in the CD booklet, "...there is something in the gestures and tonality of [Baroque music], which is closer to modern times than one would assume in the first place". The Freiburg project is a fascinating exercise in reversing the early music 'trickle up' effect that I referred to in the post that started the specialisation hare running. All the young composers fully exploit the unique sonic palette of the Baroque instruments and the result is both thought provoking new music and a valuable exercise in ear candling. Although copies can still be found, Harmonia Mundi's About Baroque CD is now deleted and cannot be bought as an MP3 download. Why are so many of the CDs that feature here deleted? As Mahler and a handful of others increasingly dominate concert and CD/MP3 release schedules whatever happened to classical music's much vaunted long tail?

About Baroque was bought at the Harmonia Mundi boutique in Arles. This is the label's home base and the Mas from which the company is run is outside Arles. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk Also on Facebook and Twitter.

7 comments:

John Power said...

For anyone (like me) intrigued by the idea of modern compositions played on baroque instruments, the CD is available in North America from ArkivMusic.

Pliable said...

After uploading that post I walked through the pouring rain of an English summer to pick up a newspaper. As I walked I thought, checked Amazon for a download of About Baroque but didn't check iTunes and elsewhere - bet it's available somewhere.

So it is, and my thanks go to John for pointing that out. There is a headline there somewhere about Manx cats...

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

Pliable - In stealing some of your quotes for a post of my own, caught a typo

"...there is something in the gestures and tonality of [Baroque music], which is closer to modern times than one would assue in the first place".

assue must mean assume?

Pliable said...

Lyle, many thanks for that and it is now corrected.

Am I the only one who absolutely cannot spot errrors in their own copy? Recently I even managed to make a spelling mistake in a headline!

But at fast approaching 2750 posts and a million words, and with its eighth birthday a few days away, I guess I guess the blog is entitled to a senior moment or two.

Philip Amos said...

This is copy editing and it's always best to have it done by someone else -- the writer is too close to it. Part of my academic career was spent editing a journal of international history. The only joy in that labour was finding in front of me a submission that wasn't a complete mess. Having said that, I must confess that I always did the editing of my own work because the editing at publishers in general is pretty dismal and I can't trust them. Some don't even have in-house editors.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

I always try to go back and check posts I've done a day or so after posting them, and nearly half the time find errors, no matter how many times I read it through before posting. Once a mistake is read over and not caught my brain seems to map itself around it ;-)

Scott said...

<<Am I the only one who absolutely cannot spot errrors in their own copy?

Tough to find all the errors in copy you've written and edited.

Suggestion if you'e doing your own copy editing - for the very last pass, read the copy back to front. This helps to focus on each word, and makes it much more likely that you'll catch that last typo.