New and old champions of the avant-garde
Monday, March 14, 2011
A valuable piece of interpretive advice once offered to me: "Make contemporary works sound Classical and Classical works sound like they were written yesterday. Everything was new at one point." That's the name of the programmatic game this week on Hammered!: avant-garde works new and old that, regardless of date-of-composition, reinvented the way we hear music.
Each day we'll tether our musical selections to a loosely unifying principle and explore (1) how occasionally crazy some of these older works remain, and (2) how more recently composed works have responded to the avant-garde traditions established by these pieces.
Take Thursday for instance: we'll start with two super gnarly works by Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen (bring your Allen Forte) before turning to Ludwig van Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, opus 106, which I promise when heard after Boulez and Stockhausen will rock your post-tonal world. Especially the immense fugal finale, its harmonic language so rickety that it occasionally risks complete tonal collapse.
Speaking of fugues, Friday is full of 'em. The first half of the program pits preludes and fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach (including the B minor fugue from The Well-Tempered book one, the so-called "twelve-tone fugue") and Dimitri Shostakovich (who also has a "twelve-tone fugue" of sorts, the fifteenth in D-flat major). After that we'll have three contrapuntally-inspired works by Elliott Carter before a work by Carter's avant-garde birthday-buddy-in-crime Olivier Messiaen closes the program, his colossal fugue "Par lui tout a ete fait" from Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jesus.
Rounding out the week are pairings of Robert Schumann and Gyorgy Kurtag, Johannes Brahms and composers from the Second Viennese school, and on Monday (which soon after the Monday show you can stream above) you can hear works by Claude Debussy, Tristan Murail, and a "night music" pairing of works by Maurice Ravel and Carter.
So many illuminating pairs to choose from - what are your favorites?