MUSIC / Touring: Scale models: Stephen Johnson on microtonality
Saturday 20 November 1993
Kevin Volans's White Man Sleeps was performed as originally scored for two harpsichords, viola da gamba and percussion. Volans dresses African inflections in 18th-century musical costume - a bizarre idea, but hearing and seeing the results performed with po- faced accuracy was weirder, like looking at a tribal dance mask in a glass case. Giacinto Scelsi's Yliam for 10 female voices sounded in some ways like a vocal ensemble product of the Sixties avant-garde without the self-consciousness. Briefly, another world was evoked - a dark, troubled but alluring place. The women of the New London Chamber Choir sang it very persuasively for conductor James Wood; and they showed their fine form again in Xenakis's Nuits, joined by the men this time.
That there was a similar wild diffuseness in Jonathan Harvey's Valley of Aosta shouldn't have come as a surprise. Here was a composer praising Turner's famous painting for its absence of 'objects' and its 'explosion of energy and diffracted light'. But Turner's Valley of Aosta still strikes one with the force of a single, powerful idea; Harvey's flings ideas in all kinds of directions. Some are striking, some aren't. It was James Wood who, in his own Phainomena, showed that freeing music from familiar structures can allow the listener to experience different, possibly deeper layers of meaning. You didn't have to read a word of his note to be carried along by the tide of invention. Not all the visible musical activity was audible, but the sound was captivating right through to its beautifully judged ending.
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientists who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' by Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
- 5 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
Breaking Bad season 6 is still not happening
Doctor Who review 'Flatline': Clara isn’t half bad as the Time Lord
Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened
X Factor 2014 results: Chloe Jasmine and Stephanie Nala sent home
Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' by Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'