New music for old instruments
There is a neat inversion of yesterday's theme of modern orchestras being influenced by baroque performance practices in the double CD above. About Baroque features the unusual combination of contemporary music and period instruments. It was the product of an innovative funding initiative by the Siemens Arts Program that brought together the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and five leading young composers in a series of workshops and rehearsals that allowed the composers to understand the sonic potential of period instruments. The output from the programme was five new works from Michel van der Aa, Juliane Klein, Rebecca Saunders, Benjamin Schweitzer and Nadir Vassena written specifically for the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. These were captured in concert performances and released on About Baroque in 2006.
Let's make one thing clear, About Baroque is not ersatz early music. It is very contemporary music written for a leading period instrument ensemble. And how well it works. Those very qualities, a lighter but more textured and focussed sound, which Antoine Leboyer fears are undermining the classical and romantic repertoire, open up infinite new possibilities in contemporary music. The combination of new music and old instruments is so successful that I was about to wonder why it hasn't been done before. But it has, and here are just two examples from the shelf next to where I write.
The little known Alia Vox CD Lachrimae Caravaggio is a series of compositions and improvisations by Jordi Savall and colleagues. These are inspired by 17th century sources, but in his sleeve note Jordi Savall says "their musical language and expression are unequivocally 21st century". And the second disc of the groundbreaking The Art of the Recorder by the David Munrow Recorder Consort is devoted to 20th century music by Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Nigel Butterley and Peter Dickinson. Follow the path in David Munrow - more than early music.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. All CDs mentioned were purchased by me. About Baroque is on Harmonia Mundi and my copy was bought in their boutique in Arles, which is where the record label is based. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk