Saturday, May 24, 2008

A successor to Schoenberg

A Google search for Nicholas Maw's Odyssey turned up the Contemporary Classical Music guide page. (Domain name: Heh.) Alongside pages dedicated to Xenakis, Penderecki, Maxwell Davies, and Rautavaara, we find a page dedicated to rapper Eminem (remember him?) as one of the foremost exponents of post-Schoenberg Sprechstimme. The guide's suggestion to Eminem fans for further listening in the same style? Berio's Sequenza III.

Also priceless is the introduction to their page on Lennox Berkeley's motet Crux fidelis:
Contemporary choral music is often more accessible than orchestral music. One reason for this is that much of it is religious. Modern vocal sounds, such as blood-curdling screams, crying and gurgles are hardly appropriate in all but the most liberal, or perhaps evangelical, of churches.
Touche! A brilliant satire on contemporary Christian culture and music if I've ever seen one. Or take the discussion of Xenakis's Metastasis, which makes the interesting point that Xenakis's modernist work sounds very similar to the glissandi of the THX trailer, and then goes on to add:
The important questions that we are left to ask are these. First, why is Xenakis’s groundbreaking music considered by many to be difficult and modernist, when we perceive the THX movie trailer to be both accessible and part of popular culture? And second, should we not try to resolve this conflict rationally, by accepting Xenakis and thus choosing to listen to his music?
Indeed! But my favourite is this recommendation:
  • If you liked Haydn's Farewell Symphony, you might like Cage's 4'33''.
I'm convinced this site is either one of the satirical masterpieces of the current age, or in need of some editing.

And Odyssey? I'm not sure if it's a wholly successful experiment - there's very little precedent for 90-minute orchestral works in one continuous movement - but I'd say it was worth my time. It's worth yours, too.

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