Why Simon Rattle is fed up with Britain

So you think the mood in Britain is gloomy? The view from Berlin looks even more apocalyptic, it seems. “If I were not British,” says Britain’s most celebrated conductor, “I would say that this old country of ours is going through a kind of endgame.”

The remark is so startling that I stare open-mouthed at Sir Simon Rattle. Does he mean that Britain is finished? “Well, that cannot be true, can it?” he goes on. “And yet what I read about the country at the moment is totally depressing.”

Will he vote in the election? “Let’s put it this way: every time I read about what Wagner was like, I wonder why I am performing his music. And every time I read about what British politics is like, I wonder why I should vote. But I suppose I’d better get my act together and support someone on the day.”

The Tories? A vote for change? Rattle laughs, as if I’ve suggested that he conduct a Lloyd Webber medley at his next Berlin Philharmonic concert. “Look, how long have you known me? You can’t really imagine me voting Conservative, can you? If I knew myself who I was voting for I would tell you.

Read the full interview in The Times here.

Read another interview in Telegraph here.

Anne-Sophie Mutter in United Arab Emirates

“Excuse my English,” Anne-Sophie Mutter says with a laugh. “I know it’s rather flowery, but that’s as good as it gets.” As it turns out she speaks it better than I do; her German must be a model of rhetorical control.

Still, it’s clear why, as one of the finest violinists in the world, she might feel her second language ranks poorly as a mode of expression. It is our good fortune in Abu Dhabi that we’ll get to hear her fingers do the talking when she comes to the Emirates Palace to play a trio of violin trios this weekend as part of the Abu Dhabi Classics season.

For now it’s only worth noting that, in music as in speech, Mutter seems to have been reconciling herself to floweriness.

Read the full article in The National here.

Corigliano speaks out on ‘Darkness’ rejection

Last week, MovieScore Magazine published the news about Howard Shore replacing John Corigliano as the original score composer on the upcoming Mel Gibson thriller, Edge of Darkness. Today, we have a lot more information for you – from Corigliano himself! One of the most respected and acclaimed composers of contemporary concert music in the world, Corigliano had written three feature film scores prior to Edge of Darkness, with The Red Violin earning him the Oscar ten years ago. The rejection of his Edge of Darkness score was met with great disappointment among fans of his music and in the film music community, and the reasons behind the switch of composers has been somewhat unclear.

MovieScore Magazine can now present to you a revealing interview with John Corigliano himself on his music for Edge of Darkness, and the events that ultimately led to the rejection of the score. Why was it replaced? What did it sound like? Will he ever score another film? Moviescore Magazine asked.

Listen to The Red Violin Caprices on Spotify here.

A Conversation with Robert Carl, author of Terry Riley's In C

[Ed note: Oxford University Press is a proud sponsor of NewMusicBox and this very book has been featured in their sponsored space on this site. However, despite this seredipidous synchronicity, their welcome support for NewMusicBox in no way influences our editorial content.]

In April 2009, the 45th anniversary of Terry Riley’s In C was celebrated on the main stage of Carnegie Hall in an all-star performance assembled by the Kronos Quartet’s David Harrington. The event included the participation of musical luminaries across a wide swath of genres ranging from Philip Glass and Joan La Barbara to Dave Douglas, Lenny Pickett, and Wu Man, plus some of the participants in the piece’s earliest performances—Morton Subotnick, Katrina Krimsky, Jon Gibson, and Stuart Dempster. Some of us felt it was a long overdue acknowledgment from one of the world’s most prominent bastions of high culture for the historical significance of minimalism and the work which served as a catalyst for establishing this new musical paradigm. Although, fascinatingly enough, the 1968 New York premiere of In C, which directly led to its premiere recording on Columbia Masterworks, occurred in Carnegie’s much smaller, and at the time less high-profile, Recital Hall, now known as Weill Recital Hall. But if last year’s Carnegie Hall celebration confirmed In C’s status as a landmark in music history, two more recent events reveal In C to be a harbinger of the future as well.

In July 2009, Oxford University Press issued Robert Carl’s analytical volume Terry Riley’s In C as part of their series, Studies in Musical Genesis, Structure, and Interpretation, the first work of a living composer to be so accredited. This may seem another accolade in the establishing of In C as standard repertoire, but in fact Robert Carl’s book is also largely about how In C’s adaptability among musicians of a wide variety of stylistic backgrounds provides an excellent road map for the future of music.

In November 2009, innova issued In C Remixed, a 2-CD set featuring a crisp performance of Riley’s original score by the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble along with 18 remixes and re-conceptualizations of In C by a broad range of people including some of today’s most forward thinking musical creators—e.g. David Lang, R. Luke DuBois, Phil Kline, Mason Bates (a.k.a. Masonic), and Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. D.J. Spooky That Subliminal Kid).

Right before the start of this new year, I chatted with Robert Carl about his insightful book as well as the past, present, and future of what is an undeniable musical phenomenon. It is clear that in addition to being one of the most significant pieces of American music created thus far, In C also continues to shape and inform the music of today and tomorrow.—FJO

Read the interview here.

Pierre Boulez’s Gentler Roar

LUCERNE, Switzerland

IN a maroon turtleneck and loose-fitting gray suit, eyes on his score, Pierre Boulez took turns one late August morning here rehearsing the soloists for “Répons.” Written in 1981 for six soloists, chamber orchestra and live electronics, it is the first major work he wrote using the electronic-music institute in Paris, Ircam. But it has rarely been performed, just a few dozen times.

Now Mr. Boulez had young musicians from the Lucerne Festival Academy on hand. Intimations of jazz, Balinese gamelan, African drumming and Japanese music floated from welters of rapid passagework. “You are freer there, so to speak,” he reminded the harpist where the score mandated improvisation.

“No, no, no, no,” he gently chided one of the pianists, adding, consolingly, “It’s difficult also for the conductor, believe me.”

It sounded nearly impossible, not least when the six soloists finally played together before the rehearsal broke. Intense complexity created waves of impenetrable sound.

And yet.

Read the full interview in The New York Times here.