More New Music

Following on from the last posting, I see that this week Matthias Pintscher was conducting the first British performance of his Cello Concerto in London’s Barbican Concert Hall. That puts into perspective my gloomy reflection on the British scene, which was a bit over the top anyway. Born in 1971 and winner of many international awards, Pintscher has studied in London and Dusseldorf, been composer in residence at the Mannheim National Theatre and the Cleveland Orchestra, and is presently a professor of music in Munich.

This arrangement whereby for two or three years a composer is connected with an orchestra, has become a common practice in Europe and North America, and provides a context in which new compositions can evolve and be grounded. Pintscher is regarded as the foremost German composer of his generation and, multi-talented, he in fact conducted the whole of last Wednesday’s concert which was very favourably reviewed in the paper the following day. He has produced a variety of works in different genres and they have been performed by prestigious orchestras under such conductors as Simon Rattle.

Another contemporary composer who has been a composer in Residence -with Sinfonia 21 and with the Cleveland Orchestra – is the English composer,Julian Anderson. He has also been associated with the City of Birmingham Orchestra in this capacity since 2001. Holding various academic positions he is now Professor of Composition at Harvard University and has held a similar position at the Royal College of Music. (How do these people ever have time to compose?!). The Website, www.fabermusic, characterises Anderson’s style of composition as a ‘fresh use of melody, vivid contrasts of texture and lively rhythmic impetus’.

Anderson apparently has a wide appreciation of ethnic music, ranging from the folk music of Eastern Europe and India.

His Alhambra Fantasy (2000) is inspired by Moorish folk music as well as the world of Lorca. Since its first performance this work as been performed by many of Europe’s major ensembles and was toured by the Ensemble Modern under Oliver Knussen, himself a composer of distinction. A CD of some of his pieces has just been issued. Played by the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus, the disc is enthusiastically reviewed in today’s Guardian.

Two English composers of another generation are being given new attention just now, Robert Simpson and George Lloyd, and we will have a look at them in the next posting.