Classical shebang

Stephen Drury's modernity
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 22, 2008
Stephen Drury

One of the central tenets of modernity is that ain’t nothing’s free — but leave it to the troublemakers at New England Conservatory to kick that idea into last century. This Tuesday at Brown Hall at 8 pm, Stephen Drury will present a suite of modern compositions by a foursome of significant 20th-century composers — and the whole shebang is free. We’ve provided some clips of representative works below, and if they don’t supply the pleasing harmonies and reliable structures you associate with composed music, you may need to recall another tenet of modernity and get that stick out of your ass.

Toru Takemitsu, “The Night”
Japanese legend Toru Takemitsu’s music is teeming, swirling, surging, frightful, and evenly gorgeous, and his lifelong fascination with all things water might find its clearest realization in this stunning first movement (the others are called “Moby Dick” and “Cape Cod”) from Toward the Sea, for alto flute and guitar.

John Cage, "Etcetera"
Written in 1973 for an ensemble of any size with three conductors, “Etcetera” is Cage at his most freewheeling — which really could go any which way. At its worst, the piece demonstrates how frightening freedom can be; at its best, it’s far more real than silence.

Franco Donatoni, Omar
Veering from near-cartoonish stumbling chaos into smooth sustained rings, this piece for solo vibraphone is one of Donatoni’s punchiest statements. This short QuickTime clip of a performance by Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen doesn’t offer the whole piece, but it’ll give you an idea of how much Anacin to bring.

Iannis Xenakis, Rebonds
The “NEC Shivaree” will perform “Zythos,” a composition for trombone and a sextet of marimbas — it’s a doozy, to be sure, and one not easily found on-line. Here though, we find Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen exploring Xenakis’s love for near-ritualistic interlacing rhythms in one of his masterpieces. It’s as good an idea of what to expect as any — well, minus the trombone.
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