Classical: Stretch Your Ears the independent's guide to new music

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The Independent Culture
ERKKI-SVEN TuuR is one of those contemporary composers who don't really belong to a particular school or style - he's just good. And despite the complexity and detailed expertise of his work, such as his two-movement Symphony No. 3, just released on Flux (ECM New Series), his music communicates in a direct, refreshing manner. On this recording, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra sound as if they are enjoying themselves, and there's a wonderfully vulgar climax - Mayo Bucher's black, white and grey sleeve image couldn't be more tastefully inappropriate. Admirers of the label's consistently high standards of packaging design can make a pilgrimage to Brighton, Sussex in November, when "Sleeves of Desire", an exhibition of the label's cover art at the University Gallery, will accompany "Selected Signs", a month-long ECM arts festival to be held at the seaside town.

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THE FOLK record label Topic celebrates its 60th anniversary with a multi-artist Barbican concert on Friday 24 September (7.30pm). On the following day, the Topic artist June Tabor performs a solo concert at St Giles's Church Cripplegate (7pm).

Tabor's latest album is one of the label's most ambitious new projects to date - a collaboration with the chameleon-like Creative Jazz Orchestra, featuring arrangements by Huw Warren. And you can see Reg Hall in action, presenting archive recordings from "Voice of the People", on the Barbican conservatory terrace earlier that day (Saturday 25 September, 2pm-3.30pm.) Booking: 0207 638 8891.

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THE LONDON Musicians' Collective (LMC) is chiefly known for its live advocacy of the most extreme ends of sound, aiming to "make visible the overlooked and the uncategorisable, the sonic experiment that challenges received notions and genres". Resonance, LMC's increasingly readable house journal, follows this policy with a more international approach, covering sampling, Thai classical music, dub reggae and, with the latest issue (Vol 7, No 2) roots music from around the world. The accompanying CD includes some real songs - an intense 1936 recording of Phil Tanner singing "Sweet Primrose", and "Scaldlaw" by Robin Williamson (whose work with the Incredible String Band influenced a disparate array of musicians, from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols) - as well as work by the sound sculptor John Wynne and Surrealestate, led by a guest Resonance co-editor, Robert Reigle. A printed interview with Reg Hall, series editor of Topic Records' monumental 20-CD "Voice of the People" series of archive recordings, is spiky and illuminating. Asked about the appropriation of folk songs by classical musicians Hall says that, for example, the Peter Pears/ Benjamin Britten recording of "Foggy Foggy Dew" cannot be compared to a traditional performance - it has to be judged as art music. "It's still a load of crap," says Hall. "It's just a twee bit of nonsense with no artistic value whatsoever." LMC details: www.l-m-c.org.uk.

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IN THE punkish spirit that led them to set up their own Village Life CD label, the drummer/ improviser Paul Clarvis and the violinist/ composer Sonia Slany have now launched their own VL magazine. Cheaply produced and cheerful, it feels a bit like a parish magazine, but there's a good article by Andrew Halifax, an engineer - "acoustic space is like an instrument... it takes time to learn, listen and play within each acoustic" - and a fiery polemic by Slany: "We want to stimulate a sense of curiosity about music again, and a willingness to try something new. A sense of trust even, in the same way that people go to the cinema or to new restaurants with an open mind." You can track it down through www. villagelife.co.uk. A similarly clear-eyed, honest approach informs their musical output. The Bath Jazz Festival appearance by Clarvis's Orquestra Mahatma must be on the shortlist for Gig of the Year.

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THE COLOURSCAPE Music Festival (presented by Nettlefold Festival Trust) returns to Clapham Common in south London this month to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Musicians of various kinds, many of them LMC members, don colourful capes to become part of the Colourscape Performance Sculpture, a series of pneumatic PVC tents supported by air pressure, their interiors illuminated by natural light. Highlights include the instrument inventors Hugh Davies and Peter Cusack and the wonderfully engaging Nicolas Collins (Sunday 19 September, 1pm-5pm) and a new commission from the brilliant London Sinfonietta cellist Matthew Barley (Sunday 26 September, 1pm-5pm). Details: 0208 763 9298

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