A Tune A Day: One week later

A week of new music has come and gone! In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to listen to a new musical work every day for the month of April. So far, it’s been an interesting experience: my “listening time” often occurs at the end of the day, when I realize “Damn, I haven’t listened to a new piece yet…. Argh”. Often I was torn between listening to a new piece and curling up on the sofa with a book and a beer. That said, each night I managed to pry myself away from my book (if not my beer) and dutifully listened to something new.

And, I gotta say, each night I was rewarded for the effort.

I actually think I lucked out this week: everything I listened to was frickin’ awesome in its own way. Most of this music was entirely new to me, while a couple were pieces I had heard maybe once or twice many moons ago, and had more or less forgotten. The list this week was:

April 3rd – Toru Takemitsu: Sky, Horse and Death

April 4th – Derek Charke: Sepia Fragments

April 5th – Richard Rodney Bennett: Tom O’Bedlam Song

April 6th – Bela Bartok: 5th String Quartet

April 7th – Maurice Ravel: Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé

April 8th – Alban Berg: Altenberglieder

April 9th – Vladimir Martynov: Night in Galicia

The Martynov was the wild card of the bunch. Recommended to me by composer Jocelyn Morlock (who was referred to it by her former composition teacher, the late Nikolai Korndorf), I personally found this sprawling 70-minute work began to outstay its welcome by the fifth movement. But the opening movement is so intensely striking, balancing healthy doses of chant-inspired minimalism and folkloric ridiculousness. Here’s a clip for anyone interested (seriously, it blew my mind, so if you can spare 15 minutes, it’s absolutely worth a listen):

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