MWLTH 6.1–6.2

Music We’d Like to Hear got off to a typically thoughtful, intimate, surprising and beautiful start last Friday with Markus Trunk’s curated concert of clavichord music, played by Makiko Nishikaze. Some thoughts I had:

  • The clavichord is a lovely instrument: it’s rare to find a (Western classical) instrument that establishes the parameters of its own reception so firmly: you have to be seated on the keyboard side, and you have to be as close as possible, and you have to listen with rare intensity.
  • It also has a surprisingly rich palette – much more interesting than the ‘small harpsichord’ that I was sort of expecting. The range of sounds from tinkling treble to wah-wah bass is unusually wide.
  • I’ve mentioned Mamoru Fujieda before, but more people need to know about his music.
  • Peter Ablinger’s music is extraordinarily robust: switch it to whatever instrument or combination of instruments you like and it still sounds absolutely purposeful and absolutely him. Cage mastered that trick too.

John Lely’s concert continues the series on Friday; here are the details:

Christopher Hobbs: Aran; McCrimmon Will Never Return
William Cheshire: Slat
Alvin Lucier: Opera with Objects
Travis Just: Everybody’s Everyone (it’s time to love life again)
Michael Parsons: New Work for multiple ocarinas
Philip Corner: Gamelan II ‘KHUSUS’
and Two Georgian Folk Songs, transcribed and arranged by Lely.

Performed by William Cheshire, Richard Jones, John Lely, Tim
Parkinson, Michael Parsons and Markus Trunk.

7.30 pm
Church of St Anne & St Agnes, Gresham Street, EC2V 7BX
£9 (£6)

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Between a Zen garden and the bog: Izumi Kimura, Asymmetry

A recital CD of Japanese and Irish piano music might sound at first like an odd prospect. But for Japanese-born, Irish-resident pianist Izumi Kimura it’s an opportunity to contrast subtle, eternal naivety with colour, humour and emotion. Musically the two worlds come together extremely effectively in two pieces from Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants II. These are based on digital analyses of the bioelectric fluctuations on the surface of a plant’s leaves, a way of hearing the plant’s ‘voice’. That might sound like sterile ground from which to begin, but Fujieda’s compositional choices give rise to cycling motifs, ringing fourths and fifths, and delicately curling melodies. On the neutral sonic territory of the piano they sound eternal and solemn, vast yet intimate, singing of both Ueno and Antrim.

Actually, I’m so bowled over by these two beautiful miniatures that the rest of the disc is hard to follow. Among my favourites of the remaining pieces, Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Apple Seed Dance is touchingly playful and Akira Miyoshi’s Mouvement Circulaire et Croisé II enigmatic and impressionistic. (It is the most interesting, I think, of the three Miyoshi pieces here.) Kimura is restrained in the two pieces by Gerald Barry, the best-known composer of this recital, taking time to build up a full head of steam in his Triorchic Blues and Swinging Tripes and Trilibubkins.

Leading Irish composer Ronan Guilfoyle is represented in two rhythmic and energetic pieces – Dance Suite no.1 and Toccata and Feud – and an interview with him and Kimura has been produced by the CMC Ireland:

This  disc is one of a set of four produced by the Irish label Diatribe as Solo Series Phase 1; the others feature the performers Isabelle O’Connell, Paul Roe and Simon Jermyn, and I hope to review them all soon.