What we need is a classical chart for challenging music

Marketing gurus tells us that classical music needs charts. So we have classical charts for artists, for compilations, for specialist titles - aka core repertoire - and for singles. Medical research into the human brain tells us that audiences become what they listen to. From which the inevitable conclusion must be drawn that what we need to engage new audiences is a classical chart for challenging music. Qualifying criterion is simple to define: any classical work that has never been played on Classic FM, BBC Radio 3's Breakfast and Essential Classics and similar programmes is eligible.

Topical nominations from readers for challenging music to populate this new chart are welcome. My own suggestion is Tide, a double CD of music by James Weeks. Cageian connections abound on this new release: the performing ensemble Apartment House, which was founded by cellist and inter-disciplinary artist Anton Lukoszevieze, takes its name from Cage's composition Apartment House 1776, composer James Weeks featured here previously directing vocal ensemble Exaudi's performance of John Cage's Song Books at Aldeburgh, and the work uses the curved cello bow that Cage specified for his 1991 compositions ONE8 and 108. Tide is three solo pieces, for cello with the curved Bach bow that sounds all four strings simultaneously, for clarinet with electronic sound delay creating a canon effect, and for oboe d'amore. The three pieces can be played separately or as a trio, and the Metier double CD offers both versions. When performed together, as they are on disc one, Cageian controlled chance comes into play, with the points of entry being left to the chance decision of the musicians, but with the shape of the three discrete musical strands controlled by the score.

Leading pioneer in brain plasticity research Michael Merzenich explains that "When culture drives changes in the ways that we engage our brains, it creates different brains". If I was controller of BBC Radio 3 - one can but dream - I would order the thirty-one minute composite version of James Weeks' Tide to be played in its entirety on the station's Breakfast programme every day for a week as an antidote to the neurofissilty inducing dumb-downedness that currently prevails there.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. Tide was a requested review sample. 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).


Unknown said…
Since no-one else is offering suggestions, could I propose the music of David Gorton, examples of which are played by members of the admirable Kreutzer Quartet, again on Metier (msvcd92104).

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