Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Listened to: Louis Andriessen

Andriessen: "Gigantic Dancing Human Machine"
Bang on a Can

Andriessen: De Staat
Nederlands Blazers Ensemble
NBE Live

It's been a while since I listened to Louis Andriessen, and I've never heard much of his music, though I did like what I heard - De Snelheid, a bit of De Stijl, and (remembering only vaguely) his M is for Man, Music, Mozart score for Peter Greenaway. The two discs above contain 4 works between them. Three are from the mid-1970s, when Andriessen developed his minimalist style. De Staat is a wonderful, brash piece, full of the drama that almost by definition isn't often present in early Glass or Reich. Certainly a highlight of seventies minimalism for me. Hoketus is another impressive one, although this time for technical reasons; like the medieval "hiccup", the stop-start melody is shared between two voices (ensembles). Listened to from a distance, it's menacing but a little dull, but when you get the stereo separation you hear its fiendishness. The other seventies work, Workers Union, has a delirious sort of propulsiveness to it. Bang on a Can's album is rounded off by a piece from 1991, Hout, which is not so minimalist but is recognisably from the same composer.
More Andriessen must follow, I think. I'm intrigued by Norman Lebrecht's comment (in his Companion to 20th Century Music) "The Symphony for open strings (1978) has an unvibrated plangency that could be Balinese or medieval Dutch".

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