Whatever happened to classical music's long tail?
'Sound experiments are part of daily life for a baroque orchestra. Because more so than their "modern" cousins, historical instruments offer numerous possibilities for sounds that are equally valid.'Much discussion here recently about the dangers of specialisation in classical music and the quote above comes from a Baroque ensemble that proactively works against specialisation. Although 17th and 18th century music remains the core territory of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (Freiburger Barockorchester) their repertoire has expanded to include classical, romantic and contemporary works. In an enlightened experiment in 2004 the Freiburg Orchestra commissioned new compositions from five leading young composers, Michel van der Aa, Juliane Klein, Rebecca Saunders, Benjamin Schweitzer and Nadir Vassena. The project actively encouraged the composers to explore the sonic possibilities and challenges of a conductor-less Baroque orchestra; the commissions were given in concerts at various European venues in 2005/6 and the performances were recorded for release on the CD seen above.
As Benjamin Schweitzer explains in the CD booklet, "...there is something in the gestures and tonality of [Baroque music], which is closer to modern times than one would assume in the first place". The Freiburg project is a fascinating exercise in reversing the early music 'trickle up' effect that I referred to in the post that started the specialisation hare running. All the young composers fully exploit the unique sonic palette of the Baroque instruments and the result is both thought provoking new music and a valuable exercise in ear candling. Although copies can still be found, Harmonia Mundi's About Baroque CD is now deleted and cannot be bought as an MP3 download. Why are so many of the CDs that feature here deleted? As Mahler and a handful of others increasingly dominate concert and CD/MP3 release schedules whatever happened to classical music's much vaunted long tail?
About Baroque was bought at the Harmonia Mundi boutique in Arles. This is the label's home base and the Mas from which the company is run is outside Arles. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk Also on Facebook and Twitter.