The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival starts Friday 20th November. This is Britain's biggest new music festival, and has been going for decades, though some years have been a lot better than others. This is where to go for the hip in new European music. Huddersfield is an industrial city up north, expensive to get to if you live in the south, but BBC Radio3 will be broadcasting some highlights. Lots of composers, few know outside specialist circles, plus some of the greats - this year features Louis Andriessen.
Read this year's programme HERE. The hot item on 20/11 will be Wolfgang Rihm's -ET LUX- UK premiere, performed by the Arditti Quartet, so closely associated with the composer, and the Hilliard Quartet.
Pity the BBC won't be doing this , but they're devoting 90 minutes on 28 November to the festival and to Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, which is being done as a full installation tomorrow. Normally Harvey is not my thing, but this piece is fabulous, and made Harvey's reputation way back. It's about different levels of time, expressed by mixing bells, a boy's voice and electronic sound: it' would be moving to hear as live installation in a church. Lots more Harvey during the festival as he's "featured composer". Piano works on 21/11, followed by the Ardittis playing string quartets, including works by James Dillon and James Clarke.
Another not miss if possible is David Sawer's Rumpelstiltskin with the BCMG. This received rave reviews when it was premiered in Birmingham recently. Conducted by Martyn Brabbins and directed by Richard Jones, it's evidently a major event, which won't be quite the same audio-only. Pity it's coming nowhere near London.
Bas Wiegers brings the Nieuw Ensemble from the Netherlands for several concerts : look at the one which has Luca Francesconi, Gérard Pesson and Stefano Bellon (24/11). But the big draw will be Louis Andriessen Day on Nov 25th at which the composer himself will be present. The afternoon concert brings smaller scale works (Cristina Zavalloni sings) and in the evening a two piano feast - including De Staat transcribed for pianos, and the Hague Hacking (which grew on me after repeat listening) and the companion pair, A very sharp trumpet sonata and A very sad trumpet sonata. These are whimsical miniatures but extremely inventive, full of witty ideas.
Emmanuel Nunes day on 25th. Nunes is well known in Europe, unknown in UK, He spent his working years teaching in Paris, but now he's retired and back in Lisbon, his own work should get higher profile. At Huddersfield Noriko Kawai (excellent) will be playing his masterpiece, Litanies de feu et de la mer 1 and 11. Read THIS description of his work from IRCAM. Listen HERE for sound clips of Litanies, and HERE for a description of the Guild CD. Quatuor Diotima premieres his Improvisation IV - l'électricité de la pensée humaine the next evening.
Everyone knows and loves Rolf Hind as a pianist, so there'll be interest in his own work, A jasmine petal, a single hair, seven mattresses, a pea I've only heard one of Hind's pieces, the title I can't remember but it was interesting enough that I'd like to hear this. He'll be playing the UK premiere of a work by Lisa Lim, whom I've also heard but less memorably. Frederic Rzewski is also a big name pianist, and here will be playing his own Nanosonatas Books III to VI. Also featured will be a Danish composer, Jexper Holmen, completely new to me and Rebecca Saunders' premiere Disclosure. Read more about her on this blog, her music intrigues me, its so tactile.
As always, the last Saturday night in any festival is the big night and this one has the London Sinfonietta, Jonathan Harvey and Richard Barrett. Barrett's Mesopotamia has its world premiere, and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on 28 November, available online worldwide and on demand for a week on the BBC website. "Inspired by artefacts found on ancient archeological sites, Richard Barrett's Mesopotamia has a "dense, multi-layered structure that imitates the successive destruction and re-building of communities throughout history. Scored for 17 instruments and electronics, the piece forms the fifth part of a series of compositions collectively entitled resistance & vision", says the blurb. Barrett and his partner Paul Obermayer will be doing the electro acoustics, and there'll be two vocalists. More electro-acoustics next night, too, with Enno Poppe and Wolfgang Heiniger, Tiere sitzen nicht. "Animals don't sit". Poppe's work is very conceptual, and with such a concept, anything's possible.
Read about Rihm's Et lux and the forthcoming Rihm immersion day at the Barb HERE