Viewing entries by
Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Richard Barrett's <br><i>Music for Cello & Electronics</i>

Richard Barrett's
Music for Cello & Electronics

Review by Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Works for cello have often appeared at important junctures in Barrett’s output. Ne songe plus à fuir was one of his earliest experiments in composing with the essential structural features of the instrument (and the player’s interactions with it), as a way of representing the instrument’s essential character without the accumulated baggage of its performance practice and historical repertory. In this case, this meant reconsidering the cello as a “resonant box with four strings,” to borrow the title of that first conversation between Barrett and Deforce. Further to this, the cellist is thought of in terms of two hands, one holding a bow and both able to move in three dimensions. A large part of the compositional work after this is occupied with exploring the possibilities opened up by this “radically idiomatic” reinvention of the instrument.

Zygmunt Krauze's <br><i>Hommage à Strzemiński</i>

Zygmunt Krauze's
Hommage à Strzemiński

Review by Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Krauze’s unistic style of music closely followed Strzemiński’s manner of painting: flat on its surface, although potentially deeply layered. Where Strzemiński avoided a hierarchy of foreground and background, so Krauze avoids incident or drama in his music. Just as every part of a Strzemiński canvas is equal to every other, so every element of a Krauze work can be heard, in theory, in its first few seconds; and every subsequent moment continues to present all of those elements. Throughout the work’s duration essentially nothing new happens. However, that does not necessarily make it dull . . .

Bernhard Lang's <br><i>The Anatomy of Disaster (Monadologie IX)</i>

Bernhard Lang's
The Anatomy of Disaster (Monadologie IX)

Review by Tim Rutherford-Johnson

The Anatomy of Disaster (Monadologie IX), written in 2010 by Austrian composer Bernhard Lang, begins like a broken machine. Not one of György Ligeti’s delicately collapsing clockworks or the softly glitching CDs of German electronica group Oval, but a fast, heavy, gunning engine, flailing wildly and dangerously.  But not fatally, because the music quickly takes on a chaotic shape of its own. Fragments turn into components. A hiccuping, short–long rhythm metamorphoses into a motif. The thick texture turns out to be comprised of thinner, overlapping layers. And amongst all the dissonances there are sudden glimpses, baffling at first, of the harmonies of a much older language . . .