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New releases: ensemble/orchestral

Posted on by Simon Cummings in CD reviews | Leave a comment

The majority of new releases to have come my way recently have featured music for ensemble and/or orchestral forces, each disc of which is usually devoted to the work of a single composer. The opportunity to scrutinise an individual’s work in great depth at times turns out to be something of a mixed blessing. This is definitely the case with NMC’s recent disc of Helen Grime‘s music, Night Songs. i’ve enjoyed and written about Grime’s work on a number of …

Blasts from the Past: Aldo Clementi – Madrigale

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Blasts from the Past | Leave a comment

My next blast from the past is a rather lovely work by the Italian composer Aldo Clementi, who died in 2011. Clementi’s interest in both bell-type sounds (music boxes, carillons, etc.) and the notion of self-generating music can be heard to good effect in Madrigale, composed 35 years ago, in 1979. The title would appear to reference the Italian madrigale; originating in the early 14th century, these were usually written for two voices, setting idyllic texts—typically pastoral scenes or expressions …

New releases: electronic

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Turning to electronic music, i want to highlight several recent releases from the Entr’acte label. Founded in 1999 in London but today based in Antwerp, Entr’acte’s output has always made an impression long before any of the music has been heard. Their approach, not unique but certainly unusual among labels seeking to promote new music, has always been to present each release with essentially generic design work and packaging, and a bare minimum of supplementary text. For years, the CDs …

Proms 2014: the premières – how you voted

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Comment, Premières, Proms | Leave a comment

Having closed the 5:4 polls last week, it’s time once again to assess how you voted on each of the 21 premières at this year’s Proms. Having pulled around and crunched the numbers from various angles, here’s a brief summary of what emerged. Worst New Work Roxanna Panufnik – Three Paths to Peace Yes, exactly. Hands up who thinks that cheap imitations of sounds and gestures from assorted religions will, when idly thrown together, suddenly make everyone realise how silly they’ve …

Mix Tape #31 : Autumn

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Mix Tapes | Leave a comment

For the latest 5:4 mix tape, i’ve opted to explore music associated in some way with this time of year. Autumn is arguably the most poignant of the seasons, the ostentatious eruption of its gorgeous colours militated against by the pointed melancholy of its inevitable transition into the wastelands of winter. My infinitely greater namesake, the poet E. E. Cummings, often indignantly pitted the season against his beloved, despite its beauty: cruelly,love walk the autumn long; the last flower in …

New releases: chamber

Posted on by Simon Cummings in CD reviews | Leave a comment

The 5:4 doormat has been inundated with a stream of new releases falling onto it through the last few weeks, many of which are outstanding and deserve fuller treatment in due course—but to at least get the ball rolling, here’s an overview of some of the best, starting with chamber music.

Proms 2014: Gavin Higgins – Velocity (World Première)

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Premières, Proms | Leave a comment

In terms of volume, the Last Night of the Proms ensures the festival ends with a bang rather than a whimper. In terms of musical imagination, originality, provocation and insight, however, the reverse has long been the case, & the event today does little more than put the shit in shitfaced. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the premières commissioned to jump-start this party-cum-concert have for the most part become little more than functional bursts of effervescent froth, limp spurts of …