… in terms of performance, Mark Knoop’s rendition of the piano works stands out more: even when he is essentially just channeling Argerich, he still finds room – somehow – for a fresh interpretative stance of his own, and this is a pianistic achievement of the highest order.read full review
Microtimings contains three multi-part works, scattered across the two CDs. Disc 1 is performed by pianist Mark Knoop, and Disc 2 by the Kreutzer Quartet (external link). The Études d’un prélude are “based on a precise transcription of Martha Argerich’s 1975 recording of Chopin’s Prélude in E minor, Op. 28, no. 4.” The Artist and his Model does something similar with Alfred Corot’s 1931 recording of Debussy’s “La fille aux cheveux de lin”, and nach Webern, nach Pollini uses Maurizio Pollini’s 1976 recording of the second movement of Webern’s Variations for Piano, Op. 27.
Approaches to the material vary. Étude d’un prélude I—Chopin desséché is a direct (piano) transcription of Argerich’s recording, simply slowed down and re-notated such that her minute rhythmic nuances and touches of rubato can be written in quavers and semiquavers. The “dessication” of which the title speaks results from only the initial attack of each note being sounded. The Artist and his Model II—La durée sans contacts s’affaiblit, for string quartet, does something similar: it slows the recording to a tenth of the original tempo but retains its detail precisely, even including the white noise.
Others are more convoluted in how they are manipulated, and the Webern/Pollini piece (all for piano) perhaps unsurprisingly draws a more abstracted approach. Movement I—Neuordnung nach Dauern retains Webern’s original rhythmic and dynamic cast for the movement, but “reorganizes all of Webern’s pitches according to their duration in Pollini’s recorded performance;” Movement III—Neuordnung nach Lautstärken does the same but with the notes’ volume rather than duration. Two of the Chopin/Argerich Études – 28four (for string quartet) and four28 (for piano) – do the same thing, or something similar, organizing material according to the duration of the recorded sounds.
A third category within these pieces includes those which have been composed rather more freely; that is, with fewer rules governing the precise placement of the notes. Oddly, though, these works are if anything more arcane than the others in terms of their structure and genesis, mostly being composed “after,” or “directly in response to,” or “as an analogue to” various paintings or photographs. I can do no better with Étude d’un prélude VIII—Kertész Distortion (for string quartet), for instance, than to quote the liner notes: the piece “was composed as an analogue to André Kertész’s photograph, ‘Distortion No. 172,’ made in Paris in 1933. The photograph is of a nude as seen in a curved mirror. The composition treats the Chopin-Argerich material in an analogous fashion, curving the time (and the pitch) just as Kertész’s mirror curved the light.” It’s a ludicrously specific and obscure brief, but the result is fascinating, and – when you’re listening for it, at any rate – you can really hear the Chopin prelude drift in and out of focus. It is, though, pretty much entirely dependent on an awareness of its concept, and attempting to listen to the work without thinking about how it is distorting its original is a very tough ask. It’s hence not just an aesthetically demanding listen: it’s also an intellectually demanding one, as it really necessitates at least an awareness of what the photograph in question is – as well, needless to say, as a more or less bar-by-bar knowledge of the Chopin prelude.
In other places, such vast amounts of necessary prior knowledge get in the way of appreciation. In the case of The Artist and his Model I—La fille floutée (for piano), the liner notes tell us only that “The piece owes a debt to Gerhard Richter’s 1994 painting ‘Lesende’.” Without being told more precisely how this debt is owed, the listening experience is an uncomfortable one; the piece is too close to the Debussy/Cortot original to be appreciable as a standalone work, but too far from it to be a straight reinterpretation. And beyond the girl’s hair arguably being flaxen, the connection to Richter’s painting is simply not apparent. This problem is emblematic of what really gets in the way of the project overall: its processes are paraded so clearly as to provoke an unbecoming dependency on them. It isn’t altogether clear what anybody is meant to do with these pieces, beyond compare them to their various esoteric sources.
On these terms, though, it’s frequently a fascinating experience. I think the second CD, which is the Kreutzer Quartet’s, is the better one musically; the extra remove created by the switch of instrumentation gives Beaudoin (external link)’s pieces more room to breathe, and the effects and distortions he draws from the instruments create a thrillingly fleshed-out portrait of the various musicians and artists involved. But in terms of performance, Mark Knoop’s rendition of the piano works stands out more: even when he is essentially just channeling Argerich, he still finds room – somehow – for a fresh interpretative stance of his own, and this is a pianistic achievement of the highest order.
Sometimes the way the CD set presents the music is less than beneficial, and though it’s aesthetically beautiful and informative at times, there is a gap between the level of information which the music seems to demand and that which it actually gives. It’s also ludicrously finicky (“The first three movements of the [Second String Quartet, made up of four Chopin/Argerich pieces] may be performed separately, as individual works. However, 28four may only be performed as the finale of the complete quartet”). I also wonder whether buyers of this CD will be more likely to get that the title four28 “refers to the late pieces by John Cage,” as the notes inform us, or to be able to read four different languages, including ancient Greek, which are included in the booklet without translation.
But while this album is (for me anyway) something of a minefield of conceptual questions, it’s also vital listening for anyone at all interested in performance analysis, recomposition, or any of the three recordings on which the pieces are based. It’s also a masterclass, from the Kreuzer Quartet and especially Knoop, in how to perform rigorous music expressively. It left me a touch more respectful than convinced, but this is hardly an album for the mass markets, and on its own terms it’s an undoubted success. This is music you have to know about to understand, but if you can live with that, it’s worth it.hide full review
Xenakis sets the piano (the excellent, musical Mark Knoop) in opposition to the strings effectively.read full review
The idea of this programme, entitled Xenakis Inspires, was to present the music of composers directly influenced by Xenakis’ music alongside music by Xenakis himself. Anaktoria (1989) means “beautiful like a palace” and is the name of a notable woman from Lesbos, with whom Sappho was in love”. Composed at a time of revolutionary uprisings (it was played in factories soon after its Avignon premiere), it is a timbrally interesting piece. Again, there is a prominent bassoon part (linking to Phlegra of the first concert). Silence played a vital role here, as did the obligatory registral extremes.
Roger Redgate’s ST/X-t has a title that at once links to the source of its inspiration. The scoring for string quartet and turntable was novel (was the turntable part improvised? – the player had no score that I could see). The turntable’s sonic swoops were interesting, but sandwiched between two Xenakis scores is nowhere for this “short homage” to be. Xenakis’ Akea (1986) was interesting in introducing some constructs that could almost be described as tonal. The language was gestural, certainly, but the overall impression was of a paring down of vocabulary; less is more. Xenakis sets the piano (the excellent, musical Mark Knoop) in opposition to the strings effectively. A mere eleven minutes in length, the piece made its point tellingly.
Michael Finnissy (external link)’s Talawa received its World Premiere. The title derives from American Hopi Indian mythology and refers to the third phase of the dawn of Creation, “in whose red fully-formed human beings stand to proudly face their creator”. Although there are no direct references to the Hopi Indians, there is a static quality that conjures up timelessness – as does the extended viola solo that is shot through with melancholy (excellently played by Bridget Carey). Thessaloniki-born composer Haris Kittos (external link) gave us Omadón (“Teamed-up”), the form of which was intended to reflect the space of Xenakis’ Philips Pavilion. Kittos asks his oboist to play without the reed, resulting in a strange breathy effect (notes are fingered, which adds more sound). The surface of the music is a hive of activity, and Kittos presents a battle between oboe and strings, the oboe straining to maintain its individuality.
Finally, Xenakis’ Palimpsest (1979) recycles materials form previous pieces (Erikhthon, Khoal and Akanthos) while using characteristic techniques (sieves, Brownian motion, “halo” sonorities). The performance here was intense, the players enjoying the rhythmic play as much as the tension.
One couldn’t help but feel short-changed by the “programmes” for both these Xenakis concerts, though: a token sheet (singular) of A4 paper with brief notes for the pieces and biographies. The fact that the works for this second concert were discussed in an order that did not correspond to the actual performance order didn’t help, either.hide full review
… it was in the remarkable Akea for piano quintet that the performers really excelled and the concert kicked into a higher gear. Pianist Mark Knoop took the honours here with his growingly robust contribution, but the string quartet deserve equal praise for their own poised realisation of what is a deceptively intense and tricksy piece of music.read full review
As part of this year’s ongoing Ether Festival the Southbank Centre and the Centre for Contemporary Music Cultures of Goldsmith’s College presented the Xenakis International Symposium, a weekend-long series of events that included a substantial programme of scholarly research presentations, the screening of a film on the composer, a UPIC workshop, and two concerts, of which this performance by Ensemble Exposé (external link) under the direction of Roger Redgate was the second.
Taking up both the archival and the exploratory inclinations of the Symposium, the concert saw the presentation of three important chamber works from across Xenakis’ career, with these being interleaved by three world premiere performance of works by composers for whom Xenakis has been a significant figure. In doing this the concert provided a fascinating illustration of the shifting compositional concerns of the composer whilst at the same time showing these in something of a fresh light through the relief of the new works.
Beginning with the chronologically earliest work on the programme, Anaktoria for octet from 1969, the Ensemble quickly showed themselves to be alert to detail and forthright in emphasis. One would have liked a little more cohesiveness and fluency of expression in the group playing at this stage (though the clarinet and bassoon combined winningly near the beginning), but individually, particularly in the rasping and screaming clarinet of Andrew Sparling, this performance showed real bite.
This sharpness of manner returned with force in the latter Palimpsest¸ a teeming work for 11 musicians that is full of ungainly percussive volleys and just-unhinged rhythmic tuttis, but it was in the remarkable Akea for piano quintet that the performers really excelled and the concert kicked into a higher gear. Written in 1986, Akea displays Xenakis’ latter-day concern for textures of unprecedented clarity and harmonic arguments of the most unexpected limpidity (in contrast to the harmonic ‘clouds’, the glissandi, and the abstruse microtones of the previous decade), and these qualities brought out a fastidiousness and a lucidity in the performers that was all the more impressive considering the often wild musical context in which the work was placed. Moving through spellbinding cycles of Xenakis’ famous non-octave repeating scales (sieves), the music preserves opacity in its tendency towards asymptotic phrasing, but this tendency is never felt as strongly as the concurrent one towards order and balance in the scoring and in the steady rhythmic cycles. Pianist Mark Knoop took the honours here with his growingly robust contribution, but the string quartet deserve equal praise for their own poised realisation of what is a deceptively intense and tricksy piece of music.
Each of the three new works on the programme had something to recommend it, whether it was in the unassuming but fluent admixture of scratchy strings and Matthew Wright’s hectic turntable filigrees in Roger Redgate’s ST/X-t, violist Bridget Carey’s gripping central cadenza in the otherwise richly glacial ritual of Michael Finnissy (external link)’s Talawva, or Christopher Redgate’s stunning reedless coaxing of his playing partners in the exciting and mischievous dialogic dance of Haris Kittos (external link)’ Omadón. All of these new works were given attentive and dextrous performances by Redgate and the Ensemble, and they were all warmly received, but the Xenakis portions of the programme formed its nucleus and provided what for me were clearly the richest musical experiences of the night.hide full review
… Knoop plays a new idea of virtuosity. Where to pluck that string exactly, hit the wooden frame exactly; how to place those isolated, out-of-context chords on the keyboard for maximum impact — each sound first felt, then diligently executed and heard.read full review
Like Friedrich Gauwerky (external link)’s 2007 disc of Cage (external link)’s solo cello music (which left me strangely unstirred; happily this follow-up featuring Gauwerky in partnership with Australian pianist Mark Knoop is more satisfying in every way), Etudes Boreales occupies centre stage. Written in 1978, one work in a series derived from distilling star constellation charts into musical notation (a process Hanno Ehrler’s thoughtful booklet-notes help demystify), there are two performances here: for cello and piano (as per Cage’s original intentions) and for the piano opened up as resonating meta-percussion. Earthbound sound stretches towards something appropriately galactic.
Any cello teacher would confidently inform you that Gauwerky’s vibrato-less, balletic zig-zags across his instrument, hitting minute differentiations of microtones square in the centre, ought to be unworkable. Not that Gauwerky cares — and Knoop, too, plays a new idea of virtuosity. Where to pluck that string exactly, hit the wooden frame exactly; how to place those isolated, out-of-context chords on the keyboard for maximum impact — each sound first felt, then diligently executed and heard. Where cello and piano briefly, and coincidentally, match gesture, timbre or pitch, those moments shine like bright stars in an otherwise unknowable cosmos.
Each cello string in 10’40.3” (1953-55) is notated individually, but without quite harvesting the detachment from gestural rhetoric that Etudes Boreales achieves. Interwoven through these “star” attractions are Cage’s Harmonies, offshoots of his Apartment House 1776, based on American folksongs that he “re-composed”, puncturing holes in the narrative and shaking the constituent parts out of alignment. Not the most significant Cage historically, but earth songs that orbit around this space odyssey.hide full review
Grundlage von Etude Boreales wiederum war eine Sternkarte, aus der Cage mit Hilfe von Zufallsoperationen des I Ging die Komposition herleitete. In der von Mark Knoop gespielten Soloversion für Klavier klingt es, als wären die Sterne jetzt Klänge, die unbeweglich und unerreichbar in der Unendlichkeit eines Klanghimmels von überwältigender Schönheit prangen.read full review
Sterne am Klanghimmel Der Komponist John Cage (external link) hat unter anderem versucht, den Komponisten aus dem Vorgang des Komponierens weitestgehend herauszunehmen. Die Musik sollte ohne jemanden entstehen, dessen Denken, dessen Tradition oder dessen Prägung die Komposition beeinflussen könnte, ob bewusst oder unbewusst. Dieses Ziel versuchte er auf verschiedenen Wegen zu erreichen. Der wichtigste ist die Verwendung aleatorischer Elemente. In seiner wohl bekanntesten Komposition 4’33” spielt der Interpret keinen Ton, zu hören sind die zufälligen Geräusche des Saals, der Zuhörer, das Knacken, Knistern und Knarren der Mauern, das Hüsteln der Hälse.
Papierstruktur Seit einigen Jahren schon legt das Label Wergo die Edition John Cage auf, wozu nicht nur Musik, sondern auch eine 8-CD-Box mit Auszügen aus den Tagebüchern von John Cage gehört, gelesen von ihm selbst. Auf der zuletzt herausgegeben CD interpretieren der in Köln lebende Cellist Friedrich Gauwerky (external link), der auch die eingespielten Fassungen erstellt hat, und der in London lebende Dirigent und Pianist Mark Knoop Cages Kompositionen Etudes Boreales (1978), Harmony (1976) und 10’40.3”. 10’40.3” ist eigentlich ein Teil der Komposition 26’1.1499” (1955), und zwar die ersten 640,3 Sekunden. Cage selbst hat diese Variante in 26’1.1499” vorgesehen; der Interpret ist frei, nur einen Ausschnitt der Komposition zu wählen. Der Titel muss dann entsprechend geändert werden. Nicht nur in Titel und Dauer, obwohl der ursprüngliche Titel an ein genau determiniertes Werk denken lässt, wendet John Cage Techniken an, die das Ergebnis unvorhersehbar werden lassen. Die Komposition verlangt keinen willenlosen Ausführenden – Friedrich Gauwerky muss einen eigenen Teil zum Entstehen der Komposition beitragen. Andererseits enthält das Werk auch exakt determinierte Elemente, die, wie so oft bei Cage, mit Zufallsoperationen entwickelt wurden. Hier war es die Struktur des Papiers.
Sterne und Kometen Grundlage von Etude Boreales wiederum war eine Sternkarte, aus der Cage mit Hilfe von Zufallsoperationen des I Ging die Komposition herleitete. In der von Mark Knoop gespielten Soloversion für Klavier klingt es, als wären die Sterne jetzt Klänge, die unbeweglich und unerreichbar in der Unendlichkeit eines Klanghimmels von überwältigender Schönheit prangen. In der Duoversion mit Friedrich Gauwerky tönen die Cellosphären wie Kometen, bewegte Himmelskörper in den Himmelswelten vor den Fixsternen. Vervollständigt wird die schlüssig zusammengestellte CD mit vier zur Komposition Apartment House 1976 gehörenden Harmonies. Die Mitarbeit von Friedrich Gauwerky und Mark Knoop an Cages Werken ist überaus gelungen. Sie setzen die Klänge und Töne zurückhaltend in die Welt. Sie drängen sich nicht auf, sie sind einfach da. Ganz so, wie es der Intention von John Cage entspricht.hide full review
… a set of Heretical Bagatelles by Chris Dench (external link) broke the Feldman-like stillness the following afternoon. The latter was part of a spotless set by pianistread full review
A jagged electric guitar solo by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and a set of Heretical Bagatelles by Chris Dench (external link) broke the Feldman-like stillness the following afternoon. The latter was part of a spotless set by pianisthide full review
Mark Knoop, who also performed some of Feldman’s earlier, indeterminate work as well as two electronically aided pieces by Bryn Harrison (external link) and London composer Newton Armstrong (external link), where carefully chosen tones were artificially prolonged in a challenging blend of key, microphone and speaker that performer and sound engineer both rose to.
In Austrian composer Peter Ablinger (external link)’s Voices and Piano, Knoop accompanied a recording of German actress Hanna Schygulla by approximating the pitch contours of her voice with pinpoint accuracy. You couldn’t tell whether the piano was talking of the recording was singing.read full review
In Austrian composer Peter Ablinger (external link)’s Voices and Piano, Knoop accompanied a recording of German actress Hanna Schygulla by approximating the pitch contours of her voice with pinpoint accuracy. You couldn’t tell whether the piano was talking of the recording was singing. Ablinger repeated this effect, matching the piano to recordings of other speakers — including Billie Holiday, Marcel Duchamp, Mother Teresa and Feldman himself — in a range of different ways, inviting the listener to infer the relationship between voice and transcription each time, as well as revealing the idiosyncratic musics within speech.hide full review
I feel this is an important CD. The music is strong and always commands the listener’s respect; the performances by Mark Knoop are technically and emotionally compelling. … Very highly recommended.read full review
Because Lumsdaine (external link) has spent most of his life in England, some would say that he cannot truly be considered an Australian composer in the usual sense. Yet he strongly feels to be so, has made frequent trips back here, features Australian landscape and history in the titles of various works, and has shown a keen interest in local ornithology by making various field recordings of Australian bird calls, This CD presents his entire solo piano music for the first time, with three major works (including two world premiere recordings), and will add significantly to his reputation as one of our most important composers.
The late Don Banks described Kelly Ground (1966) to me years ago as a fine piece, and in fact it contains keyboard gestures similar to those in Banks’s own Pezzo Drammatico and Richard Meale’s Coruscations. I suspect it has not been too frequently performed and never recorded before simply because of the formidable challenges it poses to performer and listener alike. The material stems from an intended opera about the bushranger Ned Kelly, a project subsequently abandoned. It is largely organised serially in sequential cycles and strophes, and in some respects sounds like much of the post-war European avant-garde music played frequently at festivals of the period, such as Darmstadt and Donaueschingen. Consequently, it now inevitably seems a little dated, but the presence of a powerful musical mind always predominates. The second and third cycles, which represent Kelly’s hanging, are especially moving: elegiac, mesmeric and utterly individual.
Then Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh’ (1974), to my mind the highlight of the disc. Described by the composer as “a meditation on the last chorus of Bach’s St Matthew Passion”, it is cast in three sections of diminishing durations. Although Bach’s score is never quoted literally, it provides a fundamental atmosphere, “a motivic and harmonic web” (Lumsdaine’s words) from which the piece evolves. The way whereby the ominous opening C minor chord constantly returns in a stream-of-consciousness manner lends the first movement an extraordinary sense of suspense; the same procedure also appears in the brief finale. Like Kelly Ground, this piece features haunting bell-sounds—echoes of Martinů, Messiaen and others.
The third offering is Cambewarra (1980), a three-movement piece demonstrating the composer’s increasing interest in Zen Buddhism. Much of the often complex material utilizes Lumsdaine’s beloved birdcalls (Messiaen again!) from the region of that name near Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales, prefiguring certain structural processes evident in Cambewarra Mountain, one of the birdsong recordings mentioned earlier. In particular, this relates to overlapping techniques and the ways whereby structural freedom can therefore result. The first movement is essentially tranquil, the second becomes far more active, and the close of the last movement reaches an obsessive climax, with frenetic repeated notes and complex figurations. For my taste the piece seems somewhat overlong (31’02”), but contains absolutely breathtaking technical and sonic effects: not for the faint-hearted listener!
In complete contrast, the disc concludes with Six Postcard Pieces (1995), a short collection of delightful miniatures with traditional titles (March, Toccata, etc.).
I feel this is an important CD. The music is strong and always commands the listener’s respect; the performances by Mark Knoop—Australian pianist/conductor living in London—are technically and emotionally compelling; the sound quality is pleasingly ambient; the presentation is appealing; the overall timing (almost 80’) is generous; and the annotations (mainly) by Michael Hooper—Sydney mandolinist/musicologist currently researching Lumsdaine’s music at York University—are exceptionally insightful and detailed.
Very highly recommended.hide full review
Mark Knoop makes an ideal interpreter, conveying the full range of these subtle interactions without ever crossing into inappropriate histrionics.read full review
David Lumsdaine (external link)’s piano music, as heard on this excellent disc, is rich in technical intricacies. One can take analyses of these constructions on faith, but Lumsdaine’s intellectual approach is apparent as soon as one attempts an initial description of the music: one hears groups of pitches rotating and transforming, melodic and rhythmic contours evolving, the careful control of register and density. (Mark Knoop makes an ideal interpreter, conveying the full range of these subtle interactions without ever crossing into inappropriate histrionics.) This is most apparent in Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh’, an extended fantasy on the opening chords of the Bach chorale, which ghost the music’s 20-minute span, gently pushing open a window into the unfolding of Lumsdaine’s technique.
In the opening section of Kelly Ground, one can hear that the (serial) pitch organisation is arranged to determine that similar pitch collections tend to cluster together. There is also a restricted gamut of gestural possibilities: predominant is a two-note ‘spring’ upwards, like a rabbit hop. Such factors – similar examples can be found throughout this CD – contrive to give Lumsdaine’s music a certain consistency of grain, out of which emerges a sustained expressive character.
Thus, although the music is highly organised, there is never a sense of contrived abstraction. In Kelly Ground, the overwhelming mood is a sombre one of energies and freedoms restrained. This suppression is deliberate, of course, a compositional attempt to tame an infinite and anarchic field of possibilities. Over the course of the piece’s six sections, from Ned Kelly’s awakening on the morning of his execution to his eventual hanging, the musical shackles are slowly released, but the music loses cohesion and purpose. In the final section, the hanging itself, the sprung figures from the opening return to more morbid effect in slower rhythm and with portentous bass undertones, swinging like bells or a body. With Kelly’s death, the fizzing energy of the earlier movements has become petrified, the musical tension lying in the relative merits of various degrees of control and freedom.
In the late 1970s, Lumsdaine began making field recordings of Australian wildlife and landscapes. In his excellent sleevenote, Michael Hooper writes of Lumsdaine’s self-imposed rules for producing and editing such recordings, to do with fidelity to the diurnal cycle, to location and to season. In one technique, several recordings would be made in a single location, but with the microphones pointing in different directions each time, thus capturing in sound a sense of perspective and the spatial interrelationship of the landscape and its inhabitants. It is this process of objective observance within a sparsely occupied three-dimensional space that is the subject and effect of the piano piece Cambewarra. Whether there are birdsongs here or not (and this isn’t sub-Messiaen exercise in transcription) doesn’t matter: one hears musical objects simply presented and organised in contrasting temporal and spatial relation to one another. It is the way that the understanding of one’s environment is structured through phenomenal experience that is captured, more than the local details of that environment. As with Kelly Ground, in Cambewarra Lumsdaine again approaches programmatic content, whilst avoiding the temptations of crude mimesis.
An Australian landscape and a national hero. One is tempted to uncover an underlying nationalism, but to do so would be to miss the point. Despite his titles, Lumsdaine doesn’t deal in musical representations – or at least, not in any straightforward, unmediated way. He avoids parochialism by unearthing from such stories and locations structures that speak to universal experience: the tensions between freedom and a determined society, the sensation of open space and one’s own environment. It is such steadfast belief in the power of technical abstraction to articulate human concerns that gives Lumsdaine’s music its profound beauty.hide full review
It's invigorating to hear these three major piano works again, especially in such accomplished performances by Mark Knoop.read full review
Though David Lumsdaine (external link) has been based in Britain since the early 1950s, his music has remained firmly rooted in the history, culture and landscape of his native Australia. It's invigorating to hear these three major piano works again, especially in such accomplished performances by Mark Knoop; all were important landmarks in Lumsdaine's development through the 1960s and 70s, when his music was evolving rapidly. Kelly Ground, from 1966, was one of the scores that established him as a force to be reckoned with in British new music, and it remains an impressive achievement: an unlikely melding of a musical language acquired from the total serialism of Stockhausen (external link) and Boulez with a dramatic scheme based upon the final hours of famous outlaw Ned Kelly. In the 1974 Ruhe Sanfte, Sanfte Ruh', the final chorus from the St Matthew Passion is the scaffolding on which Lumsdaine builds a muscular, uncompromising musical argument. And the more contemplative textures of Cambewarra, from six years later, evoke the landscape and birdsong of New South Wales.hide full review
Insofern kommen Text und Musik bei dieser hervorragenden Aufnahme wegen der historischen Adaption in einen intensiveren, nämlich direckten Dialog, indem Rupert Huber den WDR Rundfunkchor und die Solisten in überzeugender Klangbalance dirigiert.read full review
Wenn sein Deutsches Requiem für Brahms ein persönliches, um nicht zu sagen: privates Glaubensbekenntnis war, dann sollte diese musikhistorische Bewertung gerade in einer reduzierten Besetzung hörbar sein. Offenbar ließ sich Heinrich Poos, Komponist aus Rheinland-Pfalz, von diesem Gedanken leiten, als er 1979 dieses Werk für 2 Klaviere und Pauken (statt Orchester) arrangierte. Seine Version ist gewissermaßen von Brahms selbst mit einem Klavierauszug (für vier Hände) vorbereitet, somit eine systematische und legitime Konsequenz aus dem ursprünglichen Entstehungsprozess der Komposition. Seltsam schwach wirken nun die trockenen Klänge der historischen Flügel und Pauken zu den weichen Chorstimmen, als ob Brahms durch die Klavierparts in die Rolle eines demütigen Christen gedrängt worden und mit der Autorität der gesungenen Texte konfrontiert sei. Andererseits verstärken die filigranen Klavierklänge bestimmte Affekte wie die kahle Hoffnung im Baritonsolo Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt, und die Pauken unterstützen subtil die metaphysische Geduld in den Versen Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras. Insofern kommen Text und Musik bei dieser hervorragenden Aufnahme wegen der historischen Adaption in einen intensiveren, nämlich direckten Dialog, indem Rupert Huber den WDR Rundfunkchor und die Solisten in überzeugender Klangbalance dirigiert. Ein Deutsches Requiem had hier wirklich eine unmittelbare Nähe zu Brahms’ kritischem Seelenzustand, den er mit dieser Komponistion trösten wollte.hide full review
I caught one of the most brilliant pianists of the contemporary repertoire, Mark Knoop, accompany the astounding clarinettist Carl Rosman (external link) in Michael Finnissy (external link)’s strange and imperturbable Clarinet Sonata.read full review
But to track developments in contemporary British music, the place to be is The Warehouse, near the South Bank, on Thursdays, where BMIC (British Music Information Centre) puts on its Cutting Edge (external link) concerts. There I caught one of the most brilliant pianists of the contemporary repertoire, Mark Knoop, accompany the astounding clarinettist Carl Rosman (external link) in Michael Finnissy (external link)’s strange and imperturbable Clarinet Sonata (2007), which takes reversed phrases from Beethoven’s Op 110 Piano Sonata as a thread with which to embroider itself. And a recital by the Okeanos ensemble brought the premiere of Anthony Powers’s Riverwork, a setting for the fetching combination of mezzo-soprano (Karina Lucas), oboe, viola and harp of a short poem by Irene Noel-Baker. Powers’s sinuous counterpoint beautifully captured the ripple and cascade of water. The piece was ravishingly well heard and all too brief.hide full review
A spellbinding pianist to watch and to listen to … goosebumps material. Mark Knoop, the perfect pianist for it.
Mark Knoop’s rendition is scintillating … the coherence of the work emerges from Knoop’s precise conducting.
Mark Knoop is a fine, fluent pianist and was a tower of strength throughout a demanding evening; his account of Boulez’s aphoristic Notations was scrupulously executed.
The lyrical lecture developed a responding suction, supported by the texts, which shone through as if embossed under the music. In the centre section he presented chaotic fragments with rapid, severe keystrokes, with enormous leaps over all seven octaves of the piano. To the end Mark Knoop kindled a virtuoso conflagration of sound.
The most impressive work, for me, was Radulescu’s Piano Sonata No 2, brilliantly performed by Knoop. Despite being limited to the finite temperament of the piano keyboard, it came across as a structure of infinite possibilities sensual and intellectual.
the central exhibition of the evening came with Knoop’s performance of the concert’s focal work, Tract by Richard Barrett (external link). … In fact, it seemed to me that the concert could well have stopped after Knoop’s formidable account of this gesture-heavy and emotionally draining tour-de-force.