MUSIC Ghetto blasters and city slickers
Towards the Millenium Birmingham
Wednesday 08 March 1995
Set against so uncompromising a vision, the Czech composer Pavel Haas's Study for Strings came over as an oasis of lyricism. Though written in the "paradise ghetto" of Terezin, whence Haas was transported to his death in Auschwitz, the Study is blithely abstract, strangely shaped and rich in good humour. There is more than a hint of Haas's teacher Janacek, alongside references to Dvorak's Requiem, as well as, more interestingly, a clear affinity, in the sprung rhythms and exultant tonality of the conclusion, with Tippett's Double String Concerto - a curious crossing of inspiration between men who surely knew nothing of each other.
Tippett himself was represented by a broad performance of A Child of Our Time. Meditative rather than dramatic, Simon Rattle's handling of the structure allowed the pivotally placed spirituals their full impact. The down side came in the more rapid numbers, where the chorus failed to move with a flexibility adequate to the depiction of terror.
On Sunday, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group also turned its attention to the Forties with Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and Stravinsky's Mass. In between came the premiere of Judith Weir's Musicians Wrestle Everywhere, a 13-minute concerto for 10 instruments. The title is taken from an Emily Dickinson poem rich in images of the music around us; and Weir's inspiration derives from an Ivesian desire to capture the sounds of a city - or, in her case, SE17.
The musical frame - a catchy, frequently shifting ostinato - also had an American tinge. If the harmony hardly seemed to have stirred from the 1940s of Stravinsky's Mass, blasts of invigorating instrumental sounds and easily apprehended melody combined to produce a popular success. Given the apparent richness of source material from which the work sprang, however, it didn't seem to offer a great deal of variety.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 4 African jawbone discovery pushes birth of humanity back by 400,000 years
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, TV review: Alexa Chung impresses, but Chris Moyles makes Paul Hollywood gag
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Seth Rogan's pot fumes delay hacked Sony boss’s office move
India's Daughter: BBC Four documentary provokes outrage on Twitter
India's Daughter, TV review: Delhi bus rape documentary is about women's rights around the world - not just in India
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin