Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Classical music targets a different mass market


An inevitable consequence of classical music's social media obsession is that the big get bigger and the rest get smaller. This is due to the accelerator effect of Twitter 're-tweets' and Facebook 'likes'. Once a topic reaches the social media tipping point it is liked and re-tweeted exponentially, while anything that fails to reach that crucial tipping point is buried beneath the wisdom of crowds. Such as ECM's CD of Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian's Requiem. This important new work commemorates the estimated 1.2 million victims of the Armenian Genocide which took place in Turkey in 1915-16, and it speaks profoundly and movingly of the need for humanitarian ideals and unity between nations and cultures - the very subjects that celebrity musicians put centre stage at recent Proms. But with just a few exceptions - take a bow Sequenza21 - this new release was greeted with a crouching ovation on social media and a total absence of 'Tigran Mansurian for prime minister' blog posts.

In the past I have criticised ECM for not matching the creative flair of newcomer non-classical labels such as the rejuvenated Harmonia Mundi Latitudes and Accords Croises labels. However Tigran Mansurian's Requiem is out of ECM's top drawer and ranks alongside their disc of Valentin Silvestrov's Requiem as one of the label's finest achievements. The forces are the RIAS Kammerchor and M√ľnchener Kammerorchester conducted by Alexander Liebrich, and the sleeve essay by Paul Griffiths is a poignant reminder of the damage done to music writing by online self-publishing. Paul's essay concludes with these words: "There is a fully achieved simplicity that words cannot touch, only the mindful ear". I can add nothing to this other than please do audition this new ECM release.

This review used that most rare of creatures, a requested review disc. Thank you David Fraser who is label manager at ECM's UK distributor Proper Music for flowing me music that matters and not music that needs hyping. 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.

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