This week Hammered! takes its cue from the Juilliard School's 2011 FOCUS! Festival, a weeklong exploration of post-war Polish modernism. With a little more compression and a lot more globe-trotting, we present five mini-focus festivals of piano music by composers from five different countries, beginning Monday in France and ending the week in Greece.
Despite the multiplicity of styles that largely defines modern musical aesthetics, noticeable and meaningful stylistic traits nevertheless emerge when comparing composers from the same country.
Par exemple, take France (Monday), and listen for the resonant harmonic space occupied by the works of Henri Dutilleux, Philippe Bodin, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and Tristan Murail, the latter two one-time composition students of Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. This is to say nothing of the exquisite and instantly recognizable harmonic tendencies that tie these composers together.
Or perhaps you'll find when listening to music from Japanese composers (Tuesday) that they share a certain sparseness and suspension, frequently operating in a space shared by Eastern philosophical ideology and rigorous European compositional practice (e.g. Toru Takemitsu and Toshio Hosokawa).
So far so good. Keep up the keen listening the rest of the week for music from Finland (Wednesday), Netherlands (Thursday) and Greece (Friday), including two spectacular works by John Psathas.