My review of this concert last week is now up at Musical Pointers.
It has become a feature of Radius concerts to programme works of the experimental, mostly American, avant garde alongside their more obliging European counterparts. This practice reached a sort of zenith so far in the evening’s enticing performance of Cage’s Telephones and Birds, which, instead of taped birdsong, used Messiaen’s piano transcriptions, along with the requisite recordings of telephone calls (all made in this case to the Monterey Bay Area ‘Birdbox’ hotline).
As a broad strategy it has its pros and cons. In particular, I have reservations about how the coherence and ‘throughline’ of concert (rather than an assortment of recently rehearsed works) is affected. Another effect – more ambiguous and thus potentially more interesting – is the relative influence of one tradition upon another. In general – and in this performance of Telephones and Birds in particular – I’ve found that the glossier European masters tend to smooth out any experimentalist abrasions.
Read more here.