Eric Verbugt … ci tace

Went to the Concertgebouw on saturday afternoon to hear the new composition … ci tace of the Dutch composer Eric Verbugt. I hadn’t been to the Concertgebouw since ages, I actually said to F. — who joined me — that it was probably 20 years ago since I’d been there, which is I think exaggerated, but still. I’m used to go to all kind of small places to hear new music — and now a full Concertgebouw. Quite a difference. Also for my ears: used to listen to electro-acoustic music in small places (no not loud), my own band in a rehearsal space (often too loud), or to mp3s coming from bad headphones or tiny computerloudspeakers, I now heard the music acoustic, from a distance, but with lots more coloring.

Well, it was certainly worth the price, since it turned out to be probably the longest programme of the year, almost 4 hours of music. 2 pieces for choir by Ligeti, Kindertotenlieder by Mahler, then 3/4 hours of Eric’s piece, followed by a new composition by Klaas de Vries and, to finish off, a bit of Stravinsky. The reviews today all touched upon the enormous lenght of this matinee. All works with an important role for text.

This was the programme:

I realized again why I much rather go to hear music performed live than buy a cd (euh, I mean download mp3s at Rapidshare): it is so great to hear how music is always ‘in the making’, that you can hear the process, the creation, the moulding of the clay, the material. even when it’s already composed — you hear that the composing was a ‘doing’.

Even when I would not have known Eric Verbugt personally, still his piece — for orchestra (of to be more precise 2 large ensembles), voice, oboe and choir — would’ve been my favorite. His way of writing totally comes from the classic tradition — a tradition of pushing the boundaries — it is a progression of that tradition (say, from Mahler via Ligeti and Nono to Lachenmann — well, here my knowledge is not thorough enough), with the result that, to my ears, it sounds as ‘beauty’ as beauty should be, in music, however ‘harsh’ it my sound sometimes. The writing for the ensembles is maybe stronger than the solo-pieces — though the oboe-solo, totally written-out, is very very virtuoso, with glissandi, multiphonics etc. It is virtuoso in a way one normally only gets to hear in free improv or free jazz (and that even made me think of how afro-american composers who came out of free jazz wrote for large orchestra).

To my 20th & 21st ears Mahler sounded, well, very nice, but a bit bland in comparision. (I know, that’s unfair to Mahler). The Ligeti pieces were breathtaking — but that was no surprise. Strawinsky was a first timer for me, believe it or not, I’d never heard any of his 12-tone pieces. The new composition by Klaas de Vries was nice but sounded a bit outdated due to the fairly simple, or even primitive use of tape. Would’ve been so much better if he’d processed the sound of the choir as well…

Btw, how I met Eric Verbugt is a nice story. Years ago he was googling his favorite writers — Joyce, Finnegans Wake, Arno Schmidt, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow; and every time my homepage was amongst the results. So he sent me an e-mail….

Eric Verbugt:

en,music | October 23, 2006 | 23:13 | Comments Off on Eric Verbugt … ci tace |


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