The Third Law of Classical Mechanics
How musical actions inspire equal and oposite reactions
Monday, January 10, 2011
Music is historically a very reactive material: Renaissance motets paraphrased liturgical chants; sonata structures were modeled on Mozartean tonal schemes; "Choral" symphonies were (at least) a century-long preoccupation. This week Hammered! investigates musical actions and reactions in the modern era, showcasing compositional "causes" and "effects".
Take Monday's show: the hour is bookended by Toru Takemitsu's riverrun and John Adams' Eros Piano, concertos (yes, concertos!) with a charged relationship to one another. The story is that Adams was so utterly obsessed with riverrun, hearing it in California and looping it for weeks on his car stereo, that he simply had to write his own version of the concerto to alleviate the consuming fascination.
His starting point, after absorbing the aesthetic and formal expressions of the Takemitsu, was a shared interest by the two composers in jazz pianist Bill Evans, a commonality discovered during a late-night conversation the two had at Adams' Berkeley home. The composite of these influences is a truly singular work in Adams' oeuvre, a very "un-Adams-y" concerto that is nevertheless a beautiful homage to one of Japan's greatest composers.
(Be Warned: the intervening work Nacht Klang by Toshio Hosokowa is not for passive listening!)
Filling out the week: works by Fredieric Rzewski (North American Ballads), Sean Shephard (Preludes), Judd Greenstein (Boulez Is Alive), Ezequiel Vinao (The Conference of the Birds), Ton de Leeuw (Les Adieaux), Michael Finnissy, Aaron Copland, Oliver Knussen, and more. Also tune in Friday for two more piano concertos, ...quasi una fantasia..., opus 27 (you figure that connection out) by Gyorgy Kurtag and Gyorgy Ligeti's Piano Concerto, which, among other things, uses African rhythmic structures and alludes to Bela Bartok's "night music" style.