1. Carl Rosman and Mark Knoop (1), fORCHT (2), Spitalfields Festival, 16 June
(1) Richard Barrett: flechtwerk; (2) Barrett: fOKT IV
My notes made at the time suggest a more reserved response than I remember actually having. 2007 is the year I started to pay attention to improv in any serious way; although it’s composed in a broad sense, fOKT IV contributed a lot to my increased interest, a seriously impressive 30-minute group piece played by an octet of seriously good performers. At the time I didn’t get much from the Strohviola or piano contributions, but these are much more apparent in the BBC recording broadcast in October.
2. Chris Brannick, Surtaal, Spitalfields Festival, 20 June
Paul Burnell: Pascal’s Carriage; Karlheinz Stockhausen: Zyklus; Frederic Rzewski: To the Earth; traditional Bengali music
I didn’t care much for the Burnell, and although the Rzewski was beautiful and the Bengali music deliriously enjoyable this concert gets the nod in particular for Brannick’s Zyklus, an outstanding showpiece of Stockhausen’s brilliance.
3. Tim Parkinson, Music We’d Like to Hear, 19 July
Jürg Frey: Klavierstück; Chris Newman: Piano Sonata 8b; Makiko Nishikaze: Shades I and II; Michael Maierhof: Splitting 16 für Klavier
Four experimental works for piano, all of which left me with more questions than answers, which is often a good way to be. Chris Newman’s piece exceedingly strange piece still bothers me six months later.
4. Alvin Curran, Maritime Rites, Thames, 14 September
Hundreds of people gathered on and between the banks of the Thames to listen to a 90 minute experimental smorgasbord. Everyone travelled home at the end of a working week happy. Imagine: you could do this once a month for a hundred years for the price of an Olympic village.
5. Maurizio Pollini, Barbara Hannigan, Alain Damiens, Cologne Percussion Quartet, Freiburg Sound Studio (1); Irvine Arditti, André Richard (2), Luigi Nono: Fragments of Venice, 31 October
(1) Schoenberg: Three Pieces for Piano; Schoenberg: Six Little Pieces for Piano; Berg: Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano; Nono: …sofferte onde serene…; Nono: Djamila Boupacha; Nono: A floresta è jovem e cheja de vida (2) Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura
Actually two concerts, so bit of a cheat really. La lontananza has soundtracked a lot of my year and this (with the dream team line-up of Arditti and Richard) was the most remarkable of three versions I came across, a restrained, detailed performance that maintained its intensity throughout. The first concert was something of a ragbag compilation in its own right, and even Pollini seemed a little off the mark (as was the sound projection in …sofferte…), but it wins inclusion for A floresta, an astonishing work that, through its own aesthetic integrity transcends its 1960s agitprop surfaces and becomes a powerful statement of political resistance for all times. Even Nono’s greatest admirers were stunned.