The sonic possibilities of historic instruments are indeed immeasurable. Today's composers have recently realized this—and with this realization came an entire orchestra of new sound colors. How different is a cornetto than a trumpet!
What different sounds one can find on gut strings, rather than steel! On top of these discoveries comes the interest in composing music "on top" of other music. Is it sampling? Is it stealing? Or is it just sending the classics through the kaleidoscope? Today's Brothers Balliett episode tackles this frontier of composition.
Knussen, ever with his tongue in cheek, writes a fantasia on Purcell's Fantasia on One Note. He calls it "...upon one note...". Uri Caine's "Goldberg Variations" might be the most shocking reappropriation on this show. We wish that we could play all 70 of his variations; today we only had time for six. But even among these six, the orchestration runs the gamut from historic instruments to DJ Logic mixing Goldberg at the console.
Stay tuned for the centerpiece, Sciarrino's take on the music of Scarlatti, scored for string quartet. Then hear master lutenist Rolf Lislevand try his hand at diminutions on popular tunes from the 16th century. He stumbles into some unexpectedly groovy areas, which work shockingly well in his giant, historic continuo band.
All this and more this week on the Brothers Balliett!