Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Only what changes remains

Everything changes, the only truth.
Time invokes change,
not to change deliberately.
Only what changes remains.
Phoenix or harpy, the cutting edge of simplicity,
the gift of being simple.
The only truth: change.
That is Martha Graham in the photo and the stanza above is from the Catalan poet Mario Lucarda's Homenaje a Martha Graham. Contemporary Catalan composer Ramón Humet, who was championed by Jonathan Harvey, has set Mario Lucarda's homage to Martha Graham as nine songs. These settings are most definitely high-maintenance music, and Humet realised that the emotional intensity of his settings for soprano and piano militated against consecutive performance. So he composed ten complimentary Interludis Meditatius scored for Japanese shakuhachi flute and a percussion ensemble including xylophones, marimbas, bongos, crotales, temple block and wood chimes. The Interludis reflect Ramón Humet's deep interest in Japanese aesthetics and philosophy, and are stylistically linked to his percussion suites Four Zen Gardens and Garden of Haikus which were recorded in 2012 by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Nicholas Conlon for Neu Records, an innovative new independent label based in Barcelona.

Now Neu Records has recorded Ramon Humet's Homenaje a Martha Graham with soprano Claron McFadden. Previous Overgrown Path posts have discussed the Catalan label's commitment to literally expanding the boundaries of recorded sound, and this lovingly packaged new 2 CD set captures Humet's shimmering sonic world in demonstration quality sound - listen here - with the bonus of downloads in HD FLAC Stereo and Surround 5.1. Mario Lucarda's poem resonates with Zen Buddhist doctrines, and a lineage extends from Martha Graham through her pupil Merce Cunningham to John Cage, whose music embraced change and impermanence. As Mario Lucarda points out, only what changes remains. Yet so much of the classical music industry's energy is devoted to resisting change and maintaining legacy business and creative practices. There is a smokescreen of change which is no more than tinkering with cosmetics, while the fundamental problems of celebrity culture, oversupply and a grossly imbalanced reward structure are tacitly protected. This outstanding new release by Ramon Humet, Mario Lucarda and Neu Records reminds us that the only truth is change. The classical music industry should take note.



Ramón Humet's Homenaje a Martha Graham was a requested review sample. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Reluctantly also on Facebook and Twitter.

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