Wednesday, March 15, 2006

if my life were considerably emptier, I think i might cultivate an interest in modernist churches

they used to trigger Prince Charles/carbuncle-style revulsion

now they have a certain intrigue

the same kind of pathos of the long-past vanguard stirred by looking at the record packaging of 20th Century classical music-- the typography, the graphics, the invariably modernist/abstract expressionist/minimalist/Op Art etc paintings chosen; the unsmiling formality and sternly meticulous detail of the sleevenotes...

pathos, but also honour


here's a good example of the kind of sleeve i'm talking about

and in a similar vein

this series (which woebot wrote about along time ago here) are major fetish items (nearly bought on the other day -- Jean Guillou, Visions Cosmiques, deranged church organ music--purely for the cover)

varese ones--those endless versions of the same set of five or six classic Works--Arcana, Ionisation, Poeme Electronique, etc--tend to be particularly evocative

see also
more stockhausen
and even more stockhausen

i've developed quite an interest in the second-tier avant-classical/electronic guys like this chap -- see also kenneth gaburo, charles wuorinen, etc -- partly because they're, well, more affordable -but also because the pathos is particularly intense with these guys-- they really thought electronic music was the next stage in the grand forward march of Western Civilisation (hence the loftiness of the themes behind Rudin's Tragoedia) only to have their genuine enthusiasm (as opposed to bandwagon jumping) for all these new machines wrong-footed by where classical music and the broader culture went next (i.e. backwards, pretty much)... So where are they now? Returned to tonality and the orchestral palette with their tails between their legs (Wuorinen, whose Time's Encomium on Nonesuch won some kind of massively prestigious award, a Pulitzer or something, back in the late Sixties when all this was hot). Or still beavering away doing granular synthesis and similar digital whatnot in one of the computer music labs that so many major universities in America still maintain?

whole bunch more here mixed up with more kitschy electronic stuff (who's listening superfically then eh? "kewl burbling alien noises!" well, me too to be honest)

i also dig the packaging of the non-electronic/non-concrete end of 20th Century classical, your Messaiens and Pendereckis and Ligetis and Berios; all those neglected Eastern European composers and British serialists and such like, e.g. the CRI label where the composers have names like Birtwhistle etc (this stuff goes real real cheap--nobody wants it!)

the sobriety, the severity, the solemnity ... it's quite affecting ... so much of this stuff was spiritually driven

hence the affinity with modernist churches

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