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Thread: 1980-2000 Listening Group

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    Default 1980-2000 Listening Group

    1980-2000 Listening Group

    The goal is to hear, discuss, and better appreciate music from 1980-2000. The selected works will be presented slowly over time, with each participant having the option of presenting the works they submitted.

    Alphabetical List of Works



    1. Adès: Living Toys, Op.9 (1993), [20] (20centrfuge)
    2. Arnold: Symphony No. 9, Op. 128 (1986) [50] (Phil loves classical)
    3. Benjamin: Palimpsests (1998-2002) [20] (Enthusiast)
    4. Berio, Voci "Folk Songs II" (1984) [30] (PeterfromLA)
    5. Birtwistle: The Cry of Anubis for Tuba and Orchestra (1994) [15] (Enthusiast)
    6. Boulez: Sur Incises (1996-1998) [35] (mmsbls)
    7. Carter: Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei (1993–96) [45] Blancrocher
    8. Corigliano: Symphony No. 1 (1988-1989) [40] (SuperTonic)
    9. Davies: Concerto for Trumpet (1988) [30] (20centrfuge)
    10. Dhomont: Forêt profonde (1994-96) [60] (Trout)
    11. Ferneyhough: Kurtze Schatten II (1983-19890 [15] & Kurtag: Grabstein für Stephan, Op. 15c (1989) [10] (Kjetil Heggelund)
    12. Gann: Long Night (1980-81) [25] (tortkis)
    13. Garland, Peter: String Quartet No. 1, “In Praise of Poor Scholars” (1986) [20] (tortkis)
    14. Gubaidulina: Jetzt immer Schnee for chamber ensemble and chamber choir (1993) [30] (Art Rock)
    15. Johnston, Ben: String Quartet No. 7 (1984) [25] (SuperTonic)
    16. Ligeti: Piano Concerto (1988) [25] (Phil loves classical)
    17. Lutoslawski: Piano Concerto "For Krystian Zimerman" (1988) [25] (Blancrocher)
    18. Manoury: Pluton for Piano and Live Electronics (1988-89) [50] (calvinpv)
    19. Messiaen: Éclairs sur l'au-delà... (1991) [60] (BrahmsWasAGreatMelodist)
    20. Murail: Désintégrations (1983) [25] (mmsbls)
    21. Nono: "Hay que caminar" soñando (1989) [20] (Portamento)
    22. Penderecki: Song of the Cherubim (1986) [10] & Nystedt: Immortal Bach (1988) [5] (Ravn)
    23. Rautavaara: Symphony No. 7 "Angel of Light" (1994) [35] (Ravn)
    24. Rihm: Jagden und Formen (1995-2001, revised 2008) [50] (calvinpv)
    25. Saariaho: Du cristal...à la fumée (1989) [40] (Kjetil Heggelund)
    26. Sallinen: Songs of Life and Death, for baritone, choir and orchestra, Op. 69 (1995) [45] (Art Rock)
    27. Schnittke: Symphony No. 5 "Concerto Grosso No. 4" (1988) [35] (PeterFromLA)
    28. Takemitsu: From Me Flows What You Call Time (1990) [25] (BrahmsWasAGreatMelodist)
    29. Vivier: Lonely Child (1980) [20] (Trout)
    30. Xenakis: A l'île de Gorée (1986) [15] (Portamento)

    For any issues not related to the music, please use the previous "Selection Thread."
    Last edited by 20centrfuge; Mar-01-2020 at 13:44.

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    Thomas Adès: Living Toys, Op.9

    From the composer's website:

    I Angels
    II Aurochs
    -BALETT-
    III Militiamen
    IV H.A.L.'s Death
    -BATTLE-
    V Playing Funerals
    -TABLET-


    "When the men asked him what he wanted to be, the child did not name any of their own occupations, as they had all hoped he would, but replied: "I am going to be a hero, and dance with angels and bulls, and fight with bulls and soldiers, and die a hero in outer space, and be buried a hero". Seeing him standing there, the man felt small, understanding that they were not heroes, and that their lives were less substantial than the dreams which surrounded the child like toys."

    anon. (from the Spanish)

    (this is just an excerpt from the program notes, there are more details if you want to check out the site)
    Last edited by 20centrfuge; Mar-01-2020 at 10:56.

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    Last edited by 20centrfuge; Mar-01-2020 at 12:08. Reason: Fixed the order

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    20cent's rundown:

    The piece is a commentary on our fascination and glorification of war, but also on the false ideals of politicians in using human bodies without much thought, as if they are toys.

    1. Angels
    2. Aurochs - an extinct bison. The music invokes bullfighting which is another example of trivializing death, this time for entertainment.
    3. Militiamen- references the classic image of military music - snare drum and bugle, this time the bugle is a phantom talking bugle, menacing, and irreverent, there are possibly some jazz references in there (anyone?)
    4. HAL's death - refers to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey when the AI HAL is shut down (of course after HAL attempts to kill the human) - yet another example of one entity manipulating and planning the death of another entity. This movement is also really cool in that the contrabassoon(?) mimics the voice of HAL as HAL meets his demise. It's possible that the music is based on the song HAL sings near his death, but I wouldn't know without the score.
    5. Playing Funerals

    The three "interludes" BALETT, BATTLE, TABLET are anagrams and based on common musical material.

    IMPORTANTLY, about 30-40 seconds before BALETT, and BATTLE (and maybe TABLET, but I'm not sure) there is a theme that Ades calls the "hero's theme."

    I thought, hmmm, "hero's theme" -- THAT sounds like Ein Heldenleben by Richard Strauss. Indeed, it seems to be loosely based on that theme, but more like a transfigured, sickish mockery of it. Richard Strauss's melody features a leap of a major sixth, whereas Ades features a leap of a tritone.
    Last edited by 20centrfuge; Mar-01-2020 at 12:04.

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    HAL's death scene


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    Around 1998, Adès received quite some attention in the UK Gramophone magazine (I had a subscription, and ordered most of my CD's by mail from one of the many advertisements in that magazine). I ordered two Adès EMI CD's from their Debut series, one of which also includes Living toys. I was not really impressed by either CD, but I still tried one more in the course of the years (violin concerto etc on EMI). In the end, I more or less gave up on the composer, so it is interesting to see how I feel several years after I played Adès for the last time.

    The version on my EMI CD is by the London Sinfonietta under Markus Stenz (the orchestra for which it was composed) - the sequence is different from the second Youtube links post above by the way (with BATTLE and Playing funerals reversed). For a 22 year old composer it sounds remarkably confident, but in the end, there's not a single moment where the work really grabs me, a few moments where I like what I hear (mainly the 5th and 7th movement, H.A.L.'s death and Playing funerals respectively) and several moments I really don't like (the whole of the 4th movement Militiamen for instance and a large part of the 6th Battle). So, unfortunately, my opinion on this composer has not changed. Soit.

    Artrockometer score: 2/6, "not required", I don't need this.
    Last edited by Art Rock; Mar-01-2020 at 11:02.
    I treat my music like I treat my pets. It’s something to own, care about and curate with attention to detail. From a blog by hjr.

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    But besides all of this, I love this piece and I picked it because it was the first thing I heard that really turned me on to Thomas Ades. The orchestral colors are unique. He seems to accentuate the very highs (piccolo trumpet, piccolo, upper woodwinds, violins) and the very lows (especially contrabassoon in this work).

    I do think this piece is thoroughly enjoyable even without the program notes or an understanding of the references. In fact I liked it for years without knowing much about the piece.

    Another thing I like about it is the moments of repose as in the last few movements. They are somber and cold but also moving. I really love them.

    Besides all of this, I think the trumpet solo is very cool, probably tough as nails to play.

    I hope you all will give it a listen or three and let me know what you think of it.

    I'm thrilled to be in this listening group with all of you. I know that I probably go overboard at times with my planning and enthusiasm, but it's because I'm bottled up with almost no one to share this with at home. So, please forgive me if at times I get too nerdy. I think this listening group is a good set up for us to really listen and better understand the music.

    Seriously, if any of you have any thoughts, ideas, gripes, or whatever, just let me know. I really want this to work for all of us and to be a positive outlet. Peace, my TC friends!

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    Apart from the names of the piece and the movements, I listened blind (without reading any notes or analyses). Ultimately it is about the music rather than how clever the composer is being. It is a very fluent piece for someone who was quite a young composer at the time - a mini tour de force, in fact - and its little movements are all memorable. I think I can hear links back to Stravinsky, Britten and Schoenberg - particularly their mature chamber music - among many others (I can't keep count of all the influences!). He seems to be making no allowances for his audience's willingness (or unwillingness) to engage with new music but the music is at the same time somehow very approachable. You can hear why there was by this time such hopes for Ades developing into a major and popular composer.

    I like the transitions between movements - Militiamen and H.A.L.'s Death, for example - and the way the Battle builds slowly. It isn't such a serious piece, though, is it? Or is it? The events depicted do seem to involve toys rather than real people but that is somehow especially disquieting in places.

    I do recommend repeated listening - even for those who have heard the piece before - it isn't very long and it attaches itself to your brain quite quickly!

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    I thought it made good use of winds and brass sonorities. The 2 pieces I liked more was Aurochs and Militiamen, since I felt it had they had the most momentum. The Militiamen clearly had some Jazz influences. I believe it's Harlem Jazz like the type Ellington played in his album Uptown (which I would take over this work). Wasn't too interested in the slower pieces. The 'Daisy' played in the death of Hal was kind of funny with the accompaniment, but without the reference I didn't find it very distinctive.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    I have heard some Adès before and liked it. It's been some years. This one seems different, maybe the sinfonietta sound. It's kind of noisy It does sound playful and not so serious. A bit hysterical maybe...Aha! It's all representing a childs dream of being a hero, a bit like my "action dreams" Wild and uncontrolled things happen in dreams.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    I have heard some Adès before and liked it. It's been some years. This one seems different, maybe the sinfonietta sound. It's kind of noisy It does sound playful and not so serious. A bit hysterical maybe...Aha! It's all representing a childs dream of being a hero, a bit like my "action dreams" Wild and uncontrolled things happen in dreams.
    “Noisy” is a perfect adjective for much of it, isn’t it? There’s an undercurrent of chaos, and I think it’s an excellent point also about the work invoking a dream state.

    Dreams are bizarre. They are strange and as flighty as the subconscious. There is that pervading the work.
    Last edited by 20centrfuge; Mar-01-2020 at 20:55.

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    The first 3 movements (I-III and BALETT) are better, and I especially liked Auroches, which has some Spanish flavor. The slower movements are a bit elusive and less memorable. In general, I am less fond of recent compositions which are programmatic with multiple contrasting movements/parts. If a frantic movement is good, I like to hear it as a standalone work (with some expansion if necessary), even if it would lack a variety of moods or feelings of progress. This is just my personal preference. I have the recording included in Adès: Anthology but haven't heard it for some years. Overall, I enjoyed re-listening to it. I love the trumpet that takes a prominent role in the work.

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    It was interesting to hear this piece this morning, then again this evening. I think I enjoyed the piece as music more than several members above. Both times, I felt I was hearing music I'd previously heard but couldn't put my finger on, leaving me wondering if I was hearing quotations or more general stylistic approximations--I'm interested in the Strauss reference above. I look forward to further hearings while attending more closely to the program, perhaps also to exploring other allusions.

    It's some time since I listened to Ades. I look forward to hearing some of his more recent pieces.

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