Sunday, October 16, 2005

I've been listening to an album of music by Kevin Volans - specifically Cover Him with Grass (Landor CTLCD111, released 1989). I still think this album contains some of his best music. The original version of "White Man Sleeps" is here (two harpsichords tuned into a mbira tuning, viola da gamba and percussion) along with the version he did for string quartet (the Smith Quartet, this recording is much more satisfying than the Kronos Quartet version, meiner Meinung nach!).

He insists that "they are not minimalist. When I wrote them, I was frustrated both with the bland mechanism of repeat-pattern music and with serial technique. I wanted to move away from a conceptual approach to composition." Whatever he does, his use of interlocking and revolving rhythms still impresses.

I haven't heard any of his latest works, although I went and saw his dramatic work "The Man with Footsoles of Wind", written between 1988-1993. It uses several of the same melodies from the string quartet, and the stage presentation was wonderful, using shadow puppets and dancers.


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