so easy and poetic
'Myth’ by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sadler's Wells, London
When watching the spinning, chaotic and muttering
movement choreographed by Cherkaoui, one cannot help but feel the enchanted
curiosity of Lewis Carroll’s character, Alice who stumbled upon
a mirror-like world, true in its shadow resemblance but exaggeratingly
into tear-forming euphoria
Silver Mt. Zion, Scala, London, 8 April 2008
After the first song, the audience knew they were
witnessing something special, the band certainly had no doubt, and despite
the thumping percussion and apocalyptic guitar crescendos there was
barely a bobbing head in the audience throughout. It’s called
Four Minutes, directed by Chris Kraus
In the end, the film bears an unlikely resemblance
to the Eminem movie 8 Mile. Just as Eminem’s character
Rabbit invests himself completely in his ‘one shot’ –
the few minutes he has to express himself in a rap competition –
Jenny must live a whole life in the four minutes she has to perform
at the piano competition.
Perils of Political Pop
The politics of protest music
It isn't that surprising that many pop stars should
produce average, accessible and uncontroversial sentiments when it is
these exact characteristics in their music which have secured their
existence as pop stars.
Sounds (and Politics) of Silence
Music, silence and shared meaning
It would be worrying if ‘too much music’
or ‘too much speak’ were the be all and end of the problem,
as the answer seems to lie in better structured discussion and more
collective decision-making about what music is heard and where.
Waves in London
The Grand Divas of Fado, 1 November 2007 / Portuguese Guitar Masters,
2 November 2007
Custodio Castelo’s guitar pieces are perhaps
a unique synthesis of the medieval fado legacy and rock and post-rock
harmonies. Castelo’s pieces seem to be driven by a single principle:
the exploration of the guitar universe itself, which becomes the artist's
sole benchmark and musical imperative.
Branca at the Frieze Art Fair
Roundhouse, London, 12 October 2007
I didn’t know what to expect. It just sounded
an original thing to listen and watch. Were they going to make 100 electric
guitars sound like a full orchestra? Would they reveal the full spectrum
of guitar sounds? What musical story would be invoked?
Goodall's 20th Century Greats: Lennon and McCartney
Screened at the Barbican, London, 6 September 2007
Is the mere combination of unexpected chords that
make 'I Am the Walrus' an incredible song? Any musical analyst can explain
the technical tricks behind a musical composition. And Goodall is surely
one of the more talented ones. But merely describing the pillars of
a house does not account for the beauty of the whole house.
Arcola Theatre, London
it far-fetched to imagine that any piece of music can be staged and
shown in a theatre? These performances outlined three different visions
of love and desire, where music is both the starting and final point
of a human adventure… the adventure of musical composition itself.
Faster Than Sound
9 June 2007, Aldeburgh Festival
Today violas sit with computers, carefully-clad arts tsars amongst trendy
art-school students and eerie Cold War watchtowers amid woods in Aldeburgh’s
one-day sonic arts festival, designed to ‘join the dots between
musical genres and digital art forms’.
Walker: 30th Century Man
scenes in the recording studio are alive, and fascinating for the obsessive
quality that surrounds the bringing together of each recorded piece.
Only Walker has the whole song in his head. The musicians come in and
serve each small piece of a picture that only becomes whole in the mixing
Radius - selection of new music
Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford, 25 April 2007
In many of these works, the intelligence of the composer is not in representing
ideas which might as well remain as programme notes, but in manipulating
actions and sounds into captured sensations. Radius' unabashed approach
to the ‘new’ deserves a wider audience.
Children of Adam
Royal Opera House, London
Marriott loses sight of the thing that really unites poetry and classical
dance. In a word, form. Instead he plumbs for a degraded notion of both
poetry and dance as a sopping wet melodrama of emotion - it's the 'let-it-all-hang-out-and-feel-my-pain'
school of art.
In many respects, Handel's Agrippina becomes a woman's opera under McVicar's
direction. The plot and its intricacies are driven by Agrippina (Part
I) and Poppea (Part II). Power and cruelty, love and lust gravitate
around Agrippina and Poppea respectively. McVicar's staging is a symbiosis
of musical and literary genres.
wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang?
The audience new music needs
matters is not simply bums on seats, but the engagement of a particular
any artform can be universal, it has to be particular. It is particular
scenes or artistic milieux that give birth to new ideas, and also keep
a tradition alive; without them, tradition quickly degenerates into
Masterclasses with the Royal Ballet
Tchaikovsky Experience, BBC4
the Dowell/Acosta masterclass shows is how one master conveys to another
the essence of something they know inside out, but which will also be
different in the hands (and legs!) of another principal. This isn't
about marching to the drum-beat discipline of technique, but about the
fluidity of translating a tradition.
Fauré Requiem by Candlelight
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Thursday 18 January 2007
The fluidity and purity of Elian Pretorian's singing preserved the aerial
and a-temporal character of the score originally written for a boy soprano.
It was highly regrettable that the dialogues between the choir and the
orchestra were akin to a dialogue of the deaf.
Why ballet is less conservative than people think
The illusion of 'fairy-like' weightlessness is one that
is only achieved by the strongest, best-trained and talented dancers
and they rightfully command the stage when displaying their skill.
As Darcey Bussell put it in the BBC film The Magic of Swan Lake,
'everything we work for is in this ballet'.
How Music Works
written and presented by Howard Goodall, Channel 4 (UK)
Connoisseurs can probably nail down what makes Stevie Wonder's songs
and Bach's cantatas timeless, while Beyoncé's 'Déjà
vu' was an ephemeral hit. Yet this distinction does not come naturally.
An appreciation of music has to be fostered, perhaps by documentaries
like this - alas, Goodall's programme does not deliver.