My review of Roman Maciejewski’s Missa pro defunctis, performed by the BBC SO and Chorus, is now online at MusicalCriticism.com:
There is a trend in 20th-century Polish music – dating back to Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater – for giant vocal-orchestral works that very often set religious texts. One thinks of Penderecki’s St Luke Passion and Polish Requiem, Górecki’s Second Symphony … right up to Paweł Mykietyn’s St Mark Passion (2008).
Maciejewski’s Missa pro defunctis (1945–59), for four soloists, large orchestra and 150-strong chorus, certainly earns its place by the numbers: this performance, heavily cut, lasted 2 hours; the full piece is rumoured to be twice that length. But, on tonight’s evidence, it earns its place on merit too.
Read more here.
And my review of ELISION at King’s Place on Monday is also online, this time at Musical Pointers:
For their first London concert of 2010, ELISION presented a brass-heavy programme of works by long-time and recent associates. Benjamin Marks, ELISION’s indefatigable trombonist, was busiest, appearing in all but two works, including Klaus Hübler’s solo CERCAR. This fiendishly difficult work – like so much of Hübler’s music – ‘decouples’ the instrumentalist’s activities into separate units, which are then notated on independent staves. CERCAR divides trombone playing into three groups of activities: slide positions and the F valve, overtones and diaphragm thrust, and pitch, sung multiphonics and mute. Marks’s mute was held in position on a stand, like a singer’s microphone, and he would move the instrument towards or away from it as required. On several occasions it was visually obvious that he was moving quite independently of any sound being produced, a Beckettian effect challenging one’s judgement of futile and useful, and perhaps the constraints such judgements place us in.