Now let's hear it for a composer anniversary

Aaken has left a new comment on your post Another day - another classical music anniversary - 'That said, my father, composer Ton-That Tiêt is turning 80 this year and I do wish to see some events, concerts taking place - or even people paying attention to his work, not because he is my father, but because I genuinely think his is great music'.
If other music bloggers can do U-turns so can I. So let's hear it for the anniversary of Ton-That Tiêt, a composer who meets perfectly David Nice's admirable criteria of a lesser-known figures who still doesn't get the treatment he deserves. Here, as a contribution to rectifying that, is an edited reblog of my August 2011 profile of Aaken's father, who is seen above.

Ton-That Tiêt was born in Hué in 1933, and moved to Paris in 1958 to study at the Conservatoire where his teachers included Jean Rivier, André Jolivet and Andrée Vaurabourg; the latter is better known as Mrs Arthur Honegger and among her other pupils was Pierre Boulez. Ton-That Tiêt's journey took him beyond serialism to a unique style that combines Eastern and Western elements. His output includes electro-acoustic compositions among which is a work for for flute and magnetic tape commissioned by IRCAM.

Divination systems have attracted many contemporary composers. Ton-That Tiêt shares with John Cage a fascination with the I Ching. But, unlike Cage, Ton-That Tiêt does not use chance as a composition process, but rather as a philosophical guide. Despite being an agnostic, Ton-That Tiêt's music is influenced by mystical traditions including Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, with the latter inspiring his Les sourires de Bouddha (Smiles of the Buddha) which sets verses by the 8th century Chinese poet Wang Wei for chamber choir.

Both Les sourires de Bouddha and Et la rivière chante l'éternité are available on CD from the enterprising and independent French Editions Hortus label. Les sourires de Bouddha , for which a reviewer's listening notes mention hints of Ligeti, Penderecki, and Stimmung, comes on a 19 minute CD single in an exemplary performance by the Toulouse based chamber choir Les Élements conducted by Joël Suhubiette. Et la rivière chante l'éternité is post-Jolivet in style and comes on a full length CD coupled with two other works by Ton-That Tiêt. The performances are by the Ensemble Les Temps Modernes who champion a number of contemporary composers including Tristan Murail, and the sound captured in the Salle Varèse in Lyon by the Editions Hortus production team is both appropriate and excellent.

* English interview with Ton-That Tiêt here. French resources include Jean-Sébastien Dureau and Vincent Planès' excellent website. Featured CDs can be bought from the English language Editions Hortus online shop. Editions Hortus discs can also be bought from the MusicWeb International website.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. Featured discs were provided as requested review samples. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).


Keith Parry said…
Thank you for bringing my attention to a composer that I didn't know of. His work sounds fascinating and I will certainly listen to it now.

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