Martland's music mixes minimalism and agitprop pretension; 'For Steve Martland, all stages of composition - production, reproduction and consumption - are as political as they are inextricably entwined,' read the liner notes to one of his CDs. 'His ideal: to make the world a better place.'. It makes a fitting curtain-raiser to Meltdown, the South Bank Centre's new composer-centred summer music series, which this year is hosted by Martland's musical mentor, and leader of the old Dutch new wave, Louis Andriessen.
Where last year's guest programmer, George Benjamin, offered what was virtually a short course in musical modernism, the affable Andriessen has simply seized the chance to invite a few friends round for a party. With friends like Peter Greenaway (with whom he is currently collaborating on an opera), Philip Glass (who brings his new live score to Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete) and Gavin Bryars (still dining out on the delayed success of Jesus' Blood), it all looks like being great fun, but what does it add up to? Sunday's opening marathon is typical - an eight-hour lucky dip in which quantities of energy, enthusiasm and endurance outweigh any enduring qualities in the music itself. Luckily, Andriessen himself is made of sterner stuff - his tough, sinewy, abrasive music, welded from a personal mix of Stranvinsky, jazz and minimalism, all put at the service of big issues like the nature of time and speed, and the boundaries of music and state. The highlight of the series should be the concluding concert performance of his Robert Wilson collaboration De Materie, a four-part theatre piece on ship-building, atomic theory, mysticism and Mondrian.
Imaginary Opera: Saturday 10:30pm RFH. Meltdown continues to 3 Jul, South Bank Centre, SE1 (071-928.8800).
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