Garry Fung makes an excellent suggestion in a comment on my Stravinsky/Rite of Spring/YouTube post – why doesn’t someone collect together all the classical music stuff on YouTube. Well, most of that falls outside the boundaries of this blog; there is also a lot of it, and not all of it terribly worth watching. But I am going to start listing here those video gems of contemporary classical music that I come across. Similarly to my classical music mp3 blog post this should be regarded as a post in constant process, and hardly definitive. I’m also not going to just start posting all the results of searches that I find, but only links to those videos that are most interesting or unusual. Things that won’t get posted: incomplete works (on the whole); stuff that’s poor quality in some way; videos in which the music accompanies another film (except in exceptional circumstances).
So, here you go: the Rambler’s ongoing guide to the best of contemporary classical music on YouTube.
Ablinger – weiss/weisslich, played by the Pierrot Lunaire Ensemble Wien. I think this is weiss/weisslich 4, but that’s supposed to be for piano and a minimum of 5 other instruments and there are only four here.
Ablinger – Ohne Titel for flute and piano, payed by the Pierrot Lunaire Ensemble Wien.
Barrett – knospend-gespaltener. Played by Richard Haynes.
Barrett – Aurora. Played by Tristram Williams and Benjamin Marks.
Barrett – EARTH. Played by Chris McIntyre and David Shively of Either/Or ensemble.
Berberian – 1972 Italian documentary on Cathy Berberian, also featuring plenty of Berio. In five parts, the first of which includes Cathy singing Berio’s arrangement of ‘Ticket to Ride’. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Berberian – Stripsody, performed by Diana Gamet.
Birtwistle – Gawain. No music here, but the footage of people arguing in the street about the values of modernism vs romanticism is priceless.
Boulez – Le soleil des eaux. PB conducts Elizabeth Atherton, the BBC Singers, the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC SO.
Boulez – Piano Sonata no.1. Played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Cage – 4’33″. This is the performance for full orchestra by the BBC SO that caused a stir at the John Cage: Uncaged festival in 2004. Also, here’s an extract from the video I have nothing to say and I am saying it of preparations for a 1982 performance of Speech for 5 radios. And if that’s not enough, how about David Tudor playing 4’33″? But the winner is this performance of Water Walk given on the 1960s gameshow ‘I have a secret’. Internet, I love you.
Cassidy – I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips. Performed by Carl Rosman.
Cassidy – What then renders these forces visible is a strange smile (or, First Study for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion). Performed by Tristram Williams.
Czernowin – Die Kreuzung, performed by Either/Or ensemble.
Corbett – Valentine no.11, played by Gustavo Balanesco.
Ferneyhough - Carceri d’Invenzione IIb, played by Julian Elvira.
Glass – Rubric. The Philip Glass Ensemble. Get this one quick as copies are being pulled off YouTube at Universal’s behest.
Globokar – Touché, played by Laurent Clement.
Grisey – Vortex Temporum I, part 1, part 2, played by the Quasars Ensemble (performance preceded by what I take to be an arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in E minor from Book I of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier).
Hespos - Casoleia, played by Elena Casoli.
Hespos – Santur, played by Eniko Ginzery.
Holliger – Elis (Drei Nachtstücke für Klavier), played by Jürg Henneberger.
IRCAM – not a composer, of course, but a great video from the 1984 ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) at IRCAM in Paris, showing MIT’s Barry Vercoe and flautist Larry Beauregard of Boulez’ Ensemble Intercomtemporain demonstrating the use of the computer as a synthetic performer.
Kagel – Acustica. Played by Apartment House at The Wire‘s Cut and Splice event in 2005.
Kagel – Der Eid des Hippokrates. Played by András Hamary, Markus Bellheim and Armin Fuchs.
Kagel – Les idées fixes I. RSO Saarbrucken conducted by the composer. No video, just the music.
Kagel – siegfriedp. Played by its dedicatee. No video, just the music.
Kurtág – ‘Perpetuum Mobile’, from the Játékok piano pieces. Played by the composer, this is pretty essential.
Kurtág – ‘Quarrel’, also from Játékok. Played by the composer and his wife Martá.
Kurtág – Hommage à Mihály András No visuals, just the Keller Quartet’s recording.
Ligeti – Poème symphonique. The first televised ‘performance’ of Ligeti’s infamous prank for 100 metronomes that has since taken on a credible life of its own.
Ligeti – Artikulation. Rainer Wehinger’s pioneering visual score to Ligeti’s electronic piece, synchronised together.
Ligeti – Piano Etude no.13 ‘L’Escalier du Diable’. Played in concert by Francesco Libetta.
More Ligeti Etudes – Volker Banfield plays pieces from Books 1 and 2: no.1 ‘Désordre’, no.2 ‘Cordes vides’ and no.3 ‘Touches bloquées’; no.4 ‘Fanfares’ and no.5 ‘Arc-en-ciel’; no. 7 ‘Galamb Borong’ and no.8 ‘Fém’. Number 6, the famous ‘Automne à Varsovie’ appears to have been skipped over, disappointingly, but the captions on YouTube suggest that there’s a fourth part to this recital yet to be posted, so fingers crossed. Here it is: no.6 ‘Autumne à Varsovie’.
Lucier – Music for Solo Performer. Alvin Lucier’s famous work for human brainwaves. Andrew Brouse is the man with the electrodes taped to his head in this 1999 performance.
Lutosławski – Chain I. The composer himself conducts the London Sinfonietta, for whom the work was written, at the Albert Hall (is this première? I’ll check). A Lutosławski curio – a performance of the Pagannini Variations he wrote for his wartime piano duet with Andrzej Panufnik; not the best quality recording, but an all-out performance.
Messiaen. No music in this clip, but it’s interesting nonetheless – a clip of Messiaen at the organ of La Trinité, Paris, preparing his registration before beginning an improvisation. Taken from the DVD Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time/Improvisations. And here is the actual improvisation that follows.
More Messiaen: from the same DVD, JanPB has uploaded two movements from Le quatour pour la fin du temps – ‘Liturgie de cristal‘, and ‘Louange à l’éternité de Jésus‘. He’s also uploaded a performance of Marie-Claire Alain playing ‘Les bergers‘, from one of my all-time favourite works, La nativité. Oh, and here’s Roger Muraro performing ‘Par lui tout a été fait‘, number six of the Vingt Régards.
Still more Messiaen – very tasty footage of Boulez, Aimard and the Ensemble Intercontemporain playing Oiseaux éxotiques. Thanks to Deceptively Simple for spotting this gem. Part 1, part 2. (User jre58591 has posted a bunch more piano-based Messiaen for the interested.)
Murail – Tellur. Performed by Rafael Andia.
Nono – Hölderlin, from Prometeo No visuals as such, just sound (as it should be in this case).
Penderecki – Capriccio per oboe e orchestra. Performance of this classic showpiece – looks like it was recorded for TV, rather than a concert performance.
Penderecki – Threnody No visuals, just the recording.
Reynolds – The Behaviour of Mirrors. Performed by guitarist P. Bowman.
Rzewski – Winsboro Cotton Mill Blues. Performed by Roger Wright as part of the Cliburn piano competition.
Satie/Cale – John Cale – on that show ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ again – playing and talking about Erik Satie’s Vexations.
Satoh – Incarnation II. Performed by the composer Michail Goleminov.
Schat – Symposion. Opera on the death of Tchaikowsky. In many parts; begin here.
Speak – Event Horizon, played by Forum Music, Taiwan.
Stockhausen – Setz die Segel zur Sonne. The care and concentration before a note is played in the Messiaen clip reminds me in passing of Stockhausen’s instructions for his Aus den Seiben Tagen, of which this is the most well-known piece.
Stockhausen – Klavierstücke IX, played by Michail Goleminov.
Tenney – Wake for Charles Ives. Performed by the William Winant Percussion Group.
Varèse, Le Corbusier, Xenakis – Poème electronique. It’s not immediately clear, but these may be the original visuals for the famous Philips Pavilion performance of the work at Expo 58.
Varèse – Offrandes. More Varèse, with a performance by Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain.
Varèse – Ionisation. Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain again.
Xenakis – Metastaesis, with accompanying structural breakdown. Awesome.
Xenakis – Mycenae Alpha. Another scrolling score video, this time with Xenakis’s original drawings from which the piece is generated.
Zimmerman, Bernd Alois – Requiem für einen jungen Dichter No visuals, just the recording.
Zimmermann, Bernd Alois – Stille und Umkehr Again, few visuals to this one, just the recording.