May 22, 2016

Sundaze 1621

Hello,  cupfinal day in Europe, all the favorites won be it that only PSG won in normal time, Juventus and Man U won in overtime (latter with 10 men) and Bayern Munich needed a 4-3 penatty shoot-out after a 0-0 with Borussia Dortmund, Bayern has been missing Robben dearly this last month.  This afternoon saw a shake up of the G.C. on a tough mountain stage in the Giro d'Italia. Nibila ignited the race first Steven Kruiswijk countered and then Esteban Chaves together they went on a chase for the leading riders, leaving Nibali 37 seconds in their wake. Chaves won with Kruiswijk second and taking the pink jersey from Amador who lost almost 4 minutes. It looks like an exiting 3 way tie this last week with nothing decided.

Today's artist is an English composer and double bassist. He has been active in, or has produced works in, a variety of styles of music, including jazz, free improvisation, minimalism, historicism, experimental music, avant-garde and neoclassicism.. .. ........N'Joy

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Richard Gavin Bryars (b Goole, Yorkshire, 16 Jan 1943). English composer. He read philosophy at Sheffield University (1961–4) and studied composition with Cyril Ramsey and George Linstead. In 1968 he became part of London's fast-developing experimental music scene; although never a member of the Scratch Orchestra, he worked regularly for a while with the pianist John Tilbury. His best known works of this period – The Sinking of the Titanic (conceived in 1969 and still officially in progress 30 years later) and Jesus' Blood Never Failed me Yet (1971) – are good working examples of his early aesthetic. While conceptual concerns are central (the former work is based on a series of hypotheses surrounding the disaster that befell the liner), these are explored via a rigorous, not to say relentless, extrapolation of found objects, be they the music which evidence suggests was performed on board the Titanic as it sank, or the tape of a London tramp's song, incessantly repeated in Jesus' Blood. A further dimension of the experimental aesthetic was demonstrated by the concerts of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, founded while Bryars taught at the Portsmouth College of Art: here, the performances of Western classical music by untrained musicians embodied what Michael Nyman called the ‘wide discrepancy between intention and effect’ (Experimental Music, London, 1974). The first period of Bryars' work offers a very English perspective on the experimental tradition, augmenting territory already defined by Satie, Cage and others with an openness towards, for instance, frankly sentimental materials and their associations.

The influence of Marcel Duchamp, already detectable in earlier works, was enhanced by intensive study during two fallow compositional years (1973–4), by which time Bryars had established what was to become a long-standing relationship with Leicester Polytechnic. A determination – inspired in part by the composer's affiliation to the 'Pataphysics movement – to justify every compositional decision via specific, though often hidden or arcane, associations with its literary or artistic inspiration is here harnessed to musical processes derived in part from American minimalism. Bryars's main source of performances during this period was his own ensemble, formed in 1979 and initially dominated by keyboards and percussion, since the early 1990s by low strings. Pieces such as Out of Zaleski's Gazebo for two pianos, six or eight hands (1977) and My First Homage (1978 onwards, best known in the version of 1981 for eight performers) submit familiar-sounding borrowed materials – many taken from his then favourite composers: Lord Berners, Grainger, Bill Evans, Karg-Elert – to repetitive forms governed as much by the logic implied by these pieces’ musical and extra-musical reference points (and by the significant play of irony) as by purely internal musical processes. This approach governs Bryars's second period which lasted until the opera Medea (1982, rev. 1984). The flexibility, if not compromise, demanded of a composer in the theatre led to changes in Bryars's attitude and working methods; the Duchamp-inspired principle of justification was then abandoned in favour of a more free-wheeling approach to structure. Since Medea his output has often been for more conventional forces, such as orchestras and string quartets, and commissioned by musicians of repute in other fields; there has been a number of works, for instance, for the Hilliard Ensemble, including The First Book of Madrigals (1998–2000). While a modal but often chromatically restless melancholy remains an important component of his idiom, the opportunities to write for much larger forces later enriched and sometimes energized Bryars's melodic and harmonic style while offering him a broader timbral palette. These developments are well illustrated by the opera Doctor Ox's Experiment, first performed in 1998.
In 2000, a Joseph Holbrooke reunion concert from 1998 was issued, as was Bryars' score for Biped, a Merce Cunningham dance performance. During this period, Bryars was also working on his third opera, G. Amjad, a collaboration with David Lang for the Canadian dance company La La La Human Steps, was issued in late 2008. In February of 2010, his Piano Concerto: The Solway Canal, a co-commission of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and the Dutch radio was premiered. The year also saw the release of three new albums: I Send You This Cadmium Red, scored by Bryars for an ensemble that included the speaking voices of John Christie and John Berger; I Have Heard It Said That a Spirit Enters, a collection of songs and instrumental works performed by the CBC Radio Orchestra, conducted by Owen Underhill with soloists Holly Cole, Gwen Hoebig, and the composer; and Live at Punkt by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble with Arve Henriksen guesting on trumpet.

Since 1974 Bryars has been a member of the Collège de 'Pataphysique and was elected Regent in 2001 and in 2015 was named as Transcendent Satrap, the highest honour in the Collège, a position shared with Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Eugène Ionesco, Umberto Eco and others.

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Gavin Bryars' first recording for a widely distributed label found him midway between the more experimental works from his early career, recorded for Obscure and Les Disques du Crepuscule, and the later, more somberly romantic compositions of the '90s. The recording, oddly, begins and ends with exactly the same piece (despite their differing titles), a short, evocative composition for percussion and French horn, but it does provide an attractive set of bookends for the major piece here. The first is his "String Quartet No. 1," given a strong, precise, and impassioned reading by the Arditti Quartet. Bryars manages to achieve a subtle balance between the ghostly voicings of high-register strings and the subtle, underlying melancholy of the work. The "First Viennese Dance," a duo for French horn and percussion, seems to exist in some timeless, slightly northern clime, as one can imagine the horn's cries wafting over a meadow of chimes, gongs, bells, and bowed cymbals. Here, unlike in some later works, Bryars is able to be at once mysterious yet crystal clear, sad but serene.

Gavin Bryars - Three Viennese Dancers  (flac  191mb)

01 Prologue 4:35
02 String Quartet No. 1 ("Between The National And The Bristol") 20:03
03 First Viennese Dance ("M. H.") 18:47
04 Epilogue 4:36

  (ogg  mb)

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Bryars' idea was to construct an aural picture of the disaster, complete with songs and hymns supposedly played by the ship's orchestra even as she was sinking. He combined this with the acoustical phenomenon of the enhanced ability of sounds to travel great lengths underwater and produced an eerie and romantic sub-aqueous soundscape of remarkable subtlety and beauty. Using minimalist techniques, the repetition and overlapping of hymns like "Autumn" assume a surreal aspect, at once sad and peaceful. His score was designed to incorporate new discoveries about the shipwreck (or to dispense with elements that proved false) over time; this performance includes taped reminiscences of one survivor and the tinklings of a music box salvaged by another. This is one gorgeous, haunting piece of music.

Gavin Bryars - Sinking of the Titanic  (flac  256mb)

01 The Sinking Of The Titanic 60:13

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Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet is a 1971 arrangement by Gavin Bryars of a composition by an unknown composer. It is formed on a loop of an unknown homeless man singing a brief stanza. Rich harmonies, comprising string and brass, are gradually overlaid over the stanza. The piece was first recorded for use in a documentary which chronicles street life in and around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo, in London. When later listening to the recordings, Bryars noticed the clip was in tune with his piano and that it conveniently looped into 13 bars. For the first LP recording, Bryars was limited to a duration of 25 minutes; later Bryars completed a 60-minute version of the piece.
This is a beautiful recording, if somewhat overlong. Bryars has taken 20 seconds of recorded material, almost ambient in the way it was captured, and spun a deeply moving piece of music around it. This is not easy listening; do not put this on in the background as you cook. This requires you to sit down and listen. As such its unlikely to be played very often, but on those odd occasions, when its raining outside, you are alone, and you wish to drift into a world of melancholy for an hour or so, this is a fine portal.

Gavin Bryars - Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (flac 314mb)

01 Tramp With Orchestra I (String Quartet) 27:05
02 Tramp With Orchestra II (Low Strings) 15:16
03 Tramp With Orchestra III (No Strings) 4:48
04 Tramp With Orchestra IV (Full Strings) 6:06
05 Tramp And Tom Waits With Full Orchestra 19:38
06 Coda: Tom Waits With High Strings 1:47

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This would be a great album to give someone who thinks they don't like modern, contemporary composers. Gavin Bryars work is always fresh and challenging, but he never 'rubs it in the listener's face'. His compositions have form, structure, intelligence, emotion, and – gasp! – melody. This is not a study in dissonance challenging us to listen to it all the way through – when it's over, we want more.

The Hilliard Ensemble is, of course, at the pinnacle of their field. Their voices inhabit that razor's edge between 'perfect' and 'human', with taste, ease and without pretention. They have reached the status that their name being attached to a recording is the musical eqivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal – there is quality to be found within. They are featured on only one track here as a group, 'Glorious hill' – it was commissioned by them, and you can tell it was written with their talents in mind. This is one of the most singularly beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard.

David James, the Ensemble's countertenor, is also heard on the cd's opening track, 'Incipit vita nova', written by Bryars to celebrate the birth of a daughter to a couple of his friends. His voice is heard alongside violin, viola and cello here. Bryars' text – rendered into Latin – is one of the most eloquent expressions of the wonder – and the promise – of birth I've ever read.

'Four elements' also features the voice of David James, although it is largely instrumental. The composition is built in movements to represent water, earth, air and fire – it was originally written as a dance piece. Bryars places this in the hands of his 'large chamber ensemble' – 10 players (alto sax, bass clarinet, fluegelhorn, French horn, trombone, piano, electric keyboard, two percussionists, double-bass), plus James and a conductor – but the arrangement and performance gives a real feeling of intimacy.

The album's final track, 'Sub Rosa', was written by Bryars as a tribute to Bill Frisell. He explains in the notes that he was particularly impressed with a track from Frisell's IN LINE album (also on ECM) – in 'Sub Rosa', Bryars paraphrases and expands upon line from Frisell's composition 'Throughout', from IN LINE. This piece is performed by Bryars' smaller ensemble (6 players: recorder, clarinet, violin, vibraphone, piano, double-bass).

The music on this disc is, as I mentioned, intelligent and challenging – but it's also extremely listenable. Bryars' work shows us that the work of 'contemorary composers' need not alienate potential listeners by extremism for its own sake. His work is both thoughtful and beautiful.

Gavin Bryars - Vita Nova (flac 214mb)

01 Incipit Vita Nova 6:02
02 Glorious Hill 11:32
03 Four Elements 28:46
04 Sub Rosa 9:57

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bobbysu said...

thank you so much

Anonymous said...

Hi Rho

Thanks for all the smashing work you do.

I was recently introduced to a work by Gavin Bryars on a podcast and thought if anyone would have it available, it would be you. Would it be possible to please re-up the albums?

Thank you