Radio Rambler: the Autumn playlist

Autumn’s here, although you wouldn’t know it by the weather in London at the moment. Time for a new Radio Rambler playlist … here are some notes on some of the pieces to help you along the way.

Francis Dhomont – Chambre des enfants

Dhomont is a pioneer and massively overlooked – you won’t find his name in Baker’s, Griffiths, Kennedy, Morton or Vinton. (Although you have my word that he will be in the forthcoming new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music.) Anyway, his music is far too good for neglect, and is generously documented by empreintes DIGITALES. This track, which totally owns the disturbing/cute interface from which Richard James has built a career, comes from the all-excellent Forêt profonde cycle of 1996. Why Dhomont isn’t the name to drop, I don’t know. Perhaps he shouldn’t have moved to Canada in 1979.

Franco Donatoni – Duo pour Bruno

Timo Korhonen – Tutte le corde

I don’t often get on with new music for guitar – is there any other instrument that struggles so much to shake off its folk origins? – but this piece for guitar and tape by Finnish composer Olli Koskelin does pretty well I think by embracing that background rather than pretending it’s not there at all. You can find it on this recital disc by Timo Korhonen.

Stefano Scodanibbio – Ritorno a cartagena

Philippe Manoury – Jupiter

Two pieces for flute (plus …)

Misato Mochizuki – Intermezzi I

I wasn’t much taken with Mochizuki’s music when I first heard it, and filed it under generic post-Lachenmann, post-spectral mainstream modernism. On closer listening that wasn’t really fair, and her best pieces are rather more than that. The solo flute part in Intermezzi I contains enough cues from shakuhachi music to make me believe that its clichéd gestures of Western modernism are equally borrowed – the dialogue between the two is delicately, but not too comfortably, poised. This track comes from an intriguing Ensemble Intégrales CD that I found while putting together the playlist for International Women’s Day; I can also recommend Klangforum Wien’s disc on Kairos.

Luca Francesconi – Terre del rimorso

Peter Eötvös – Two Poems to Polly

Eötvös is frustrating, isn’t he? At his best he is capable of some very striking music (Windsequenzen, Psychokosmos, Atlantis). At other times, meh. Two Poems to Polly isn’t a major work, but it is an example of the spare that serves him better than the sumptious.

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen – Triptykon

Because Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen rools.

Zygmunt Krauze – Aus aller Welt stammende

Because Zygmunt Krauze rools.

Karel Goeyvaerts – Zum Kern hin

This is a great album of historical new music recordings made by Ensemble Neue Horizone. Unfortunately, it’s let down by poor ID3 tags. See the album’s page on allmusic if you need full info.

Evan Johnson – L’art de toucher le Clavecin, 2

John Croft – … ne l’aura che trema 

Two more pieces for flute plus, this time from the Richard Craig CD I raved about earlier this year. Here’s what I said then:

The two best new works, however, are those by Johnson and Croft. Coming after the Sciarrino, which ends with a flat, focussed stream of tongue slaps and breath noises, Croft’s fantasia for alto flute and electronics is like stepping onto another world. The title alludes to ‘the air that trembles’ that Dante encounters in the first circle of hell, inhabited the ancient poets and philosophers, before crossing into the second circle, the realm of the excessively passionate and, rather like the Barrett, there is a sense of both withdrawing and projecting, an almost erotic play with a threshold. In its own way, Johnson’s L’art de toucher le clavecin for piccolo and violin similarly toys with boundaries. But here the path is more tentatively trodden; at times even the border itself seems to evaporate. The dialogue – hence the reference to Couperin’s instructional pamphlet – is between ground and ornament, but everything is ultra-cautiously proposed, bundled under fantastic layers of contingencies and securities. It sounds like the recipe for a health and safety nightmare, but Johnson’s skill is for extracting something rare and precious from out of such pressure.

Erdem Helvacıoğlu and Per Boysen – Metal Sky

I’ve reviewed Helvacıoğlu’s music a couple of times before. Here’s a track from an album I’ve not written about, to give you a flavour.

Mauricio Kagel – Divertimento

Finally, a ‘farce for orchestra’ from Kagel. This comes from the documentation CDs from the 2006 Donaueschinger Musiktage, on Neos. Thankfully a lot of the Neos catalogue is now making it onto Spotify (at least it is in the UK). It’s worth searching by label for this one, and Neos will likely feature in many future playlists.

Previous tracks played on Radio Rambler may be found in the archiveprevious playlists are all here.

8 thoughts on “Radio Rambler: the Autumn playlist

  1. Thanks for the updated playlist. Some Neos recordings are not properly tagged on Spotify, like this Lachenmann quartets disk:

    I first looked for Lachenmann+quartet(s) but didn’t find it, luckily I tried Grido again…

    And you left one track from the last radio program US Special in this playlist, maybe you checked “Hide Unplayable Tracks” in Preferences so you didn’t delete it?

  2. Actually, Francis Dhomont certainly IS one of the names to drop in electronic music circles, and has been for very many years, and his work is held in high regard by almost everyone you’ll come across in that area – in which Canadian music indeed has a much higher profile than it does in other areas. I think you might be seeing things from a position that still assumes the centrality of the instrumental/vocal medium in contemporary composition, which might be getting less tenable as time goes on.

    1. “seeing things from a position that still assumes the centrality of the instrumental/vocal medium in contemporary composition”

      I accept that’s very likely true, Richard. Leaving aside which silo is/will be the more tenable, I still think there’s little awareness of his music from this side – even less than some of his comparable peers. Although I may be completely wrong …

  3. Dhoment is the father of French Canadian electro-acoustic music and has many brilliant children.Among them Gobeil, Normandeau, and Daoust r really worth checking out. There r probably many more younger ones on the way.

  4. I confess I had not heard of Dhoment, thanks for that. (I have not heard of most of the other names either, but I’ve only started at the top of your list).

    I thought I would listen to the Foret Profunde album you linked to as it’s available in a browser (I don’t use spotify, as I’m trying to slowly de-facebook myself and now I think it’s compulsory to have a fb account to get into spotify isn’t it)

    It’s quite listenable and appealing music so far, although he seems to suffer a bit from this electro-acoustic disease of sounding like a swarm of angry mosquitos. Music technology is capable of so much more – I don’t know why “serious” composers don’t make more inventive use of it. You can find lots of very creative “amateur” efforts on Soundcloud for example. I think we’re still at the really early days of making music through electronics. But maybe I haven’t come across the “greats” in the field yet….

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