Thursday, September 08, 2016
Far from the twittering crowd
Nicholas Kenyon in the Guardian declares God save The Last Night of the Proms post-Brexit and the Telegraph reports that Anti-Brexit campaigners to hijack Last Night of the Proms with EU flags. When will classical music finally realise that until it stops taking the Last Night of the Proms seriously, classical music will not be taken seriously?
A usual I am steering well clear of that annual gathering of the twittering crowd, and instead am off to Crete off to sample some contemporary modal music. A post last year described how exciting and overlooked music was evolving in Crete under the visionary leadership of Ross Daly. Recent listening that has set my pulse racing has included two outstanding new CDs from Ross' pupils. On Thrace lyra prodigy Sokratis Sinopoulos teams up with virtuoso percussionists Bijan and Keyvan Chemirani, and - strange but true - Ensemble Intercontemporain cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. The programme includes Lutoslawki's Sacher Variation, Ross Daly's Karsilam and Jörg Widmann's Étude Digitale which was written in homage to Pierre Boulez on his 90th birthday. From these disparate ingredients four master musicians produce an hour of music that is challenging, uncompromising and infinitely rewarding.
Another Ross Daly pupil Thimios Atzakas, whose instrument is the oud, works with an ensemble that mixes sax, lyra, ney, mantoura, cello, viola da gamba, percussion, marimba and voice on an innovative debut CD titled Udopia which ranges from Satie to a setting of Kazantzakis. These new albums are from labels that refuse to take the 'me too' route of the corporates. Thrace is from the under-new-ownership Harmonia Mundi, while Udopia is from the new Carpe Diem label, and both labels are exhibiting the creative energy that is lacking from so many recent ECM releases. The new modal music that originated on Crete is spreading its wings internationally. Greece too has had a rough ride with the EU. But its creative community is doing rather than whining. Personally I don't give a damn what happens at the Last Night of the Proms.
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