Friday, September 18, 2015

There is too much of the wrong kind of classical music

Last week I was distinctly underwhelmed by a classical concert in Marseille. This week I was distinctly overwhelmed by a modern dance performance in the city's Théâtre National de La Criée. 'Extremalism' has been created by Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten for the Ballet National de Marseille and ICKamsterdam, with music by Bjork collaborator the Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurdsson. It is a ninety minute exercise in testing creative comfort zones which subscribes to the admirable philosophy that art should be dangerous: see production photo above and video via this link. The performance I attended was rapturously received by an attentive and near-capacity audience with a demographic that contrasted sharply with that for L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille playing Mahler, Liszt and R. Strauss the previous week. Yes, the contrasting ambience of the two performances was very striking. But what was even more striking was how 'Extremalism' pushed the creative envelope, while so much classical music meekly licks the same envelope in the futile hope of reaching a mass audience. Classical music's problem is twofold: not only is there too much classical music, but there is also too much of the wrong kind of music.

'Extremalism' tickets for my wife and me were bought at La Criée box office. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.


tim.brooke said...

I was fortunate enough to see that terrific production in Amsterdam, as part of the Holland Festival. Much of the music is by Icelandic composer, Valgeir Sigurdsson.

Pliable said...

Tim, thank you for that comment. It was quite wrong of me not to credit Valgeir Sigurdsson in the post. (I am still in Marseille and these posts are being written on the hoof; which is not something I usually do.) So I have now edited my text to credit Sigurdsson. I see that Faber Music - his publisher - has retweeted on my post, so I hope the amended version makes amends for my original omission.

Pliable said...

I should also point out that there is a vocal part in Extremalism that is sung in this production by the 23-year-old composer, vocalist, and percussionist from Los Angeles Jodie Landau -