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Thread: Brian Ferneyhough

  1. #16
    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SottoVoce View Post
    You know, people whine all the time about the pretentiousness of avant garde composers, but the only pretentiousness I see around here is coming from the people who can't understand and thus ridicule a persons art. The comments made on here are just plain disrespectful, whether or not you like this music. If you don't, why are you posting here? I enjoy very much ferneyhoughs music

    If I'm not mistaken, Ferneyhough himself knows he's controversial. But while here, pray tell me what there is to "understand" about music in general or Ferneyhough in particular. You don't understand a cup of coffee, you drink it and enjoy it or otherwise.

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    Does anyone here know which texts Ferneyhough used in Transit?

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    Senior Member SeptimalTritone's Avatar
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    For you avant-garde nerds out there here is a great piece composed by Ferneyhough this very year:

    Brian Ferneyhough- Inconjunctions (for ensemble) (2014)

  5. #19
    Senior Member Dirge's Avatar
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    Brian FERNEYHOUGH: La Chûte d’Icare (Petite sérénade de la disparition) for clarinet and mixed septet (1988)
    Rosman, Deroyer/Elision Ensemble [Kairos]

    This “little serenade of disappearance” is a sort of pint-sized (ten-minute) clarinet concerto based upon the Icarus myth by way of the Brueghel painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (c. 1558) as discussed in the Auden poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” (1938)—the Auden title referring to Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, where the Brueghel painting (now thought to be an early copy of a lost Brueghel original) is kept. The painting and poem can be viewed here: http://beetleinabox.tumblr.com/day/2010/07/23

    Brueghel drolly depicts Icarus’s flight/plight at the moment of splashdown, an unassuming pair of splayed legs all but lost in the mundanely preoccupied and unnoticing (or uncaring?) scene being the only telltale of the occurring disaster. The painting itself gives no indication that any of its local inhabitants actually notice Icarus falling out of the sky and splashing into the sea, but Auden believes that they have noticed and are leisurely ignoring it. This seems to be Fereneyhough’s view as well, as the local inhabitants of the landscape (the ensemble) are not unaware of Icarus (the clarinet), but they’re leisurely ignoring him. The “program” (if you can call it that) of the music is quite abstract—there’s no way, for example, that one could hear the music out of the blue and think “Icarus!”—but knowing the subject matter ahead of time and working backwards, one can rationalize/delude oneself into thinking that one detects a method to Ferneyhough’s madness and discerns a program.

    The clarinet is pretty busy throughout, often squawking in a sort of vocalized avant-garde jazz manner that reminds me of Eric Dolphy’s “conversations” with Charles Mingus, only Mingus isn’t answering back; in a rationalized program sense, it sounds as if the clarinet is trying to get the ensemble’s attention but not having much luck—the members of the ensemble are too concerned with tending to their day-to-day tasks to pay him any heed. There’s frustration in the clarinet’s tone from the git-go, with a growing sense of trouble as the work proceeds, culminating in the final meltdown and plummeting descent and splashdown/drowning, which is well represented by the clarinet’s virtuoso cadenza at work’s end. From Icarus’s perspective, the work’s sequence might go something like this: “Excuse me, but I’m having a little trouble with my wings” to “A little help here … anyone?” to “Hey! Ploughman! I know you can hear me, damn it!” to “Houston, we have a problem” to “Holy%#$&*!@666!!!” to “Ouch!” to *gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, gur….* For their part, the ensemble members react sympathetically without actually engaging the clarinet, maintaining a sort of parallel relationship much of the time. Not everything in the work fits that mold (some might argue that nothing in the work fits that mold), but that’s how I’ve generally chosen to hear it.

    The bold, dramatic, vigorously responsive Elision performance is excellent, besting the earlier accounts by Nieuw Ensemble [EtCetera] and Ensemble Contrechamps [Accord] in every respect I can think of. Carl Rosman plays the bejesus out of the clarinet, bringing a real sense of communication to the aforementioned vocalized squawking that adds a whole nother dimension to the music. The recorded sound is fairly close-up and bold but very clean, smooth, and refined, allowing instrumental timbres to come through quite vividly. The recording can be heard at Spotify and YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMAf4TX5h4U

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    It's rather a shame that Ferneyhough doesn't command a larger audience. His music, along with that of Barret's, Finnissy's and Lachenmann's is some of the most innovative and thrilling of the 21st century. Let's leave the dead guys alone for awhile and appreciate what we have here and now.

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  9. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morimur View Post
    It's rather a shame that Ferneyhough doesn't command a larger audience. His music, along with that of Barret's, Finnissy's and Lachenmann's is some of the most innovative and thrilling of the 21st century. Let's leave the dead guys alone for awhile and appreciate what we have here and now.
    It's a shame that no single label is churning out Ferneyhough or Barrett works like ECM churns out Arvo Part tunes. And I like Arvo Part, personally..

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    Quote Originally Posted by nathanb View Post
    It's a shame that no single label is churning out Ferneyhough or Barrett works like ECM churns out Arvo Part tunes. And I like Arvo Part, personally..
    Not a fan of Part's, but I am sure he's too busy swimming in a sizable pile of cash to care.

  12. #23
    Senior Member GioCar's Avatar
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    At least from time to time there come out some interesting new recordings.

    I bought the latest (I believe)


    Complete Works for String Quartet & Trios (3CD)
    Arditti Quartet

    and i'm slowly going through it...
    Wonderful music, each one of these works deserves repeated listening, and repays for it.

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    I wish NMC would remaster 'Shadowtime'. I really have to crank up the volume in order to hear anything—it's infuriating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morimur View Post
    Not a fan of Part's, but I am sure he's too busy swimming in a sizable pile of cash to care.
    I enjoy my fair share of conservative music, but admittedly Part's gotten a bit too comfortable lately. The ECM discs Adam's Lament, In Principio, and Orient Occident in particular feel like direct re-hashes of Te Deum, Litany, and Miserere. And does every disc have to contain a version of "Summa" and "Fratres"?

    Even so, I think works like "Tabula Rasa", "Kanon Pokajanen", or "Passio" earn him a place in my heart

    Edit: Erm...back to Ferneyhough! Unless I get stuck on some overlong Romantic opera today, I'll probably fit in some Ferneyhough... I need to give the middle quartets (aka everything but the sonatas and the 6th...) more attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nathanb View Post
    I enjoy my fair share of conservative music, but admittedly Part's gotten a bit too comfortable lately. The ECM discs Adam's Lament, In Principio, and Orient Occident in particular feel like direct re-hashes of Te Deum, Litany, and Miserere. And does every disc have to contain a version of "Summa" and "Fratres"?

    Even so, I think works like "Tabula Rasa", "Kanon Pokajanen", or "Passio" earn him a place in my heart

    Edit: Erm...back to Ferneyhough! Unless I get stuck on some overlong Romantic opera today, I'll probably fit in some Ferneyhough... I need to give the middle quartets (aka everything but the sonatas and the 6th...) more attention.
    I'd be interested in what you think of the explosive 3rd quartet.

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    I've been intentionally avoiding this composer, because life's too short to try to understand everything, and he impresses me as someone who requires an effort to understand. And there are so many composers I need to get to know, is all this time invested on just one person going to be worthwhile for me personally?

    Having said that, this thread is prompting me to make an effort, so I'm watching this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py5Vk90ZTak

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    I've been intentionally avoiding this composer, because life's too short to try to understand everything, and he impresses me as someone who requires an effort to understand. And there are so many composers I need to get to know, is all this time invested on just one person going to be worthwhile for me personally?

    Having said that, this thread is prompting me to make an effort, so I'm watching this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py5Vk90ZTak
    I don't think he does require a singular effort from the listener, no more than late Beethoven or late Bach. Some of his music reminds me very much of late Beethoven. He's nowhere near as challenging as Feldman.

    The pieces which first convinced me that he was up to something special were Transit and the 6th quartet.

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    Ferneyhough's music is certainly complex and depending on one's musical aesthetic, and attitude towards the avant-garde, it may make intimidating demands that one is not prepared to meet. As far as complex music is concerned, the best course of action is repeated listening. Of course, one must first acquire a passion for exploring new sonic territories, otherwise music such as Ferneyhough's will forever remain indecipherable to the ear.
    Last edited by Morimur; Feb-21-2015 at 18:33.

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  25. #30
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    I'll just add to the above two sentiments that Ferneyhough's music is really only unapproachable if the avant-garde in general is unapproachable. So it's not that life's too short for Ferneyhough - unless life's too short for the avant-garde. In which case, I must say that you're missing out on a *huge* treasure trove

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