Classical music as an antiques roadshow
’In Spring 2013, as part of the BBC’s commitment to music programming, BBC Radio 3 and the [National] Trust will present six live concerts and a live drama placing baroque performance in its historical context. The concerts will be presented by Radio 3’s Katie Derham, who will be joined by the Antiques Roadshow’s Lars Tharp during intervals to offer a fascinating insight into the Baroque connections at each house.’It is not difficult to guess that the first of those quotes originates from the BBC in 2013. But, despite the reference to the 21st century avant-garde, it is difficult to believe that the second quote comes from the sleeve notes written for a 2011 CD release by a composer born in 1971. Spaniard Pablo Queipo de Llano is a self-taught neo-baroque composer, authority on Vivaldi, and member of Vox Sæculorum, an international society of contemporary composers dedicated to “the vindication of tonality as a current and valid language in Contemporary Musical Art” – yes, it really does exist.
'Incredible as it may seem, melody, the absolute essence of Western music, has long been a mere relic for the immense majority of modern composers. This observation, obvious to any self-respecting music lover gives a fairly reliable idea of the tack taken by Contemporary Music Art, in significant accordance with one of the darkest periods humanity can remember in reference to Art and Culture. The indisputable fact that, nowadays, melody is nothing more than a scarecrow in contemporary musical creation shows the very decadence of Contemporary Music, which judging by the latest 21st century avant-garde is striding resolutely towards self-destruction, that is, the very negation of music in favour of an unintelligible sound language, completely alien to the venerable laws of harmony and at loggerheads with the primordial aim.'
The passage is taken from Pablo Queipo de Llano’s note for the new CD seen above of his twenty-five four part fugues played by Ensemble Fisarchi on the Spanish Enchiriadis label. Despite the reactionary rhetoric - Queipo de Llano claims Elgar as a “neoclassical” composer and cites Eric Whitacre as an “exceptional landmark” in contemporary music – the results are really quite appealing in a neo-baroque Vivaldi-ish kind of way; there is an audio sample here. With timings ranging between 1’ 54” to 3’ 33” the twenty-five fugues are a godsend to the classical radio presenters among my readers who want tasteful fillers to replace the ubiquitous Slavonic Dances and Debussy Preludes. Pablo Queipo de Llano’s Fugas are pleasant enough in small doses. But like Antiques Roadshow concerts and Katie Derham they are most definitely not recommended in large doses.
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