Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stopped in my tracks

I haven't been able to put two notes together in any meaningful way for a couple of weeks. This isn't being blocked but being shocked. One source of this shock was my recent "hats off, Gents" moment after hearing Richard Ayres orchestral piece No. 37B . I'm willing to go out on a limb, having heard the piece only once, and say that it's the best and liveliest work by a composer of my generation, and that Ayres is the most technically accomplished and imaginative orchestrator around, with any given moment in the work both strikingly new and punningly close to the familiar. Moreover, his apparent ability to compose serenely in the middle of the minefield between the traditional, the systematic (whether experimental or complex) and the intuitive just adds to one serious case of composers' envy. (For some audio excerpts of other works by Ayres, see here). But even putting such subjective assertions of the superlative aside, No. 37B has been a call for me to radically reassess ideas about musical continuity (i.e. what follows what else), and here I am, in the middle of that reassessment. The recognition that I might have been seriously underestimating musics capacity for a variegated continuity is a terrific opportunity and I can't wait to hear what happens next.

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