Thursday, 2 September 2010

Good for Beyoncé

What's the big deal about Beyoncé being the source of Mark Anthony Turnage's Hammered Out?  Turnage has always mixed genres, like his teacher Gunther Schuler.  In fact lots of composers have mixed genres, borrowed from each other, recycled from wherever. All this righteous indignation ! Why don't we crucify Engelbert Humperdinck for using the pop tunes of his time in Hansel und Gretel.

Hoho. Although I had never heard of Beyoncé til this week, I managed to spot that Hammered Out was "not scary", "entertaining" and would be a popular hit!  And the theme of "exploitation" too!

 People are far too uptight about what is and isn't music.  Most people who listen to pop don't listen to classical and most who listen to classical don't listen to pop.  Thanks to Turnage and Beyoncé the barriers are exposed for what they really are. This one's a bit too close for comfort but what a laugh!  Maybe Turnage should retitle it "Variations on a Theme From Beyoncé", though there's not all that much variation. There's good music and bad, but that's not necessarily dictated by genre.

One thing I did wonder, though was why they followed that sublime Barber concerto with Sibelius ?  Bernstein might have been a better choice, especially Bernstein 2 "The Age of Anxiety" which mixes genres too - jazz, Broadway and mainstream classical.  Robertson conducted this wonderfully a few years ago, really making sense of the piece and restoring respect for Bernstein's strange mindset. Much better fit.

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