Sally Beamish with violinist Anthony Marwood Marking the half-way point in the BBC SSO‘s Cutting Edge series is a concert featuring the world premiere of the specially commissioned Violin Concerto by Sally Beamish. resident in Scotland since 1989. initiated to explore and highlight some of the most interesting music of the 20th century. Cutting Edge puts the Beamish alongside two major English composers. Harrison Birtwistle and William Walton. Soloist in the Concerto is Anthony Marwood who first met Beamish six years ago. while both were part of the Raphael Ensemble. before she switched from being a professional viola player to concentrate on composition. ‘l've premiered a few of her chamber works.‘ says Marwood. ‘but the Concerto is specifically for me. it’s a huge score and as l’mjust back from New York l‘ve been unable to be in touch much with Sally about it. which has been rather a good thing as l've just had to get to learn it from scratch. it’s quite wonderful and I’m terribly excited about it'.
The idea of the concerto began to grow when he sent Beamish a copy of Erich Maria Remarque's World War I novel All Quiet On The Western Front. with the suggestion that it might provide inspiration,‘The violin is very much to the forefront.‘ Marwood explains. ‘In a way. it's the protagonist reacting to a situation as the soldier in the novel is reacting to his situation. The solo violin doesn’t really blend with the orchestra. but is very much reacting against it.’
Lasting about twenty minutes. this substantial new concerto is significant in that it is written in three movements and is untitled. “Sally has deliberately moved away from the one-movement structure and also deliberately not given it a title. lt’sjust Violin Concerto.‘ (Carol Main) The BBC SSO play Sally Beamish 's Violin Concerto at C itv Hall. Glasgow on Thurs 26.
perform his recent Danrfeworks. j alongside the shorter Re-Mix and i Principia. as well as a piece by one his
Rebels wrth a
Joe Alexander looks at the contrasting musical worlds of Steve Martland and Markus Stockhausen.
The combination of composer Steve Martland and trumpeter Markus Stockhausen in Edinburgh on successive nights is purely a fortuitous one. but a deliberate attempt to present the opposite ends of the contemporary composition spectrum could hardly have produced a more effective contrast.
For this visit. Martland‘s band will
young students. John Stanley. The concert will also feature the Smith
; Quartct's version of l’alml. which he
i programme of music composed by his ; father. the great Karlheinz
Stockhausen. in a concert which
‘ launches Assembly Direct’s Sound
wrote originally for The Britten Quartet. Markus. meanwhile. will play a
Check season this year (subsequent
3 Murray McLachlan on 4 Feb. the , Balancscu Quartet on 18 Feb. and the ' Clusone Trio on 25 Feb).
Martland‘s highly energised music is seen by many as an antidote to the rather academic avant garde mainstream of the post-war period. in which Karihcinz Stockhausen has been a monumental figure. it would be wrong to impose simple dichotornies — visceral/cerebral. rhythmic/static. tonal/atonal — but there is no doubt that both composers are working in very
different musical spheres. Stockhausen has long been preoccupied with electronic music and his massive operatic cycle Lie/rt. and the development of a distinctive musical language based on a combination of a disciplined evolution of the serial system and a guiding spirituality. Martlaan has drawn on diverse eclectic iniluenees. front early
. music techniques to minimalism and rock-derived rhythms.
Both. though. have exercised an unusual amount of personal control
. over the performance of their music.
Stockltausen has worked closely with his sons 7- the younger Simon is a keyboard player -— for many years. while Martland has concentrated on his
. own Steve Martland Band as the : 5 chosen vehicle for his music. i concerts wril feature Tommy Smith and
‘thn I finished school.‘ Markus recalls. ‘my father composed Sirius
I with me as a soloist. and that piece has . iniluenced me greatly. i felt that l was
3 absorbing the music in an inner way.
- soaking tip its concepts and colours and . proportions and the process of
performing it. and it was also opening tip my consciousness. My father is unique in what he did in music. and
many people just do variations on what
he discovered.‘ As well as playing their father's music. Markus and Simon also have
Markus Stockhausen their own band. Aparis. in which they play a distinctive synthesis ofjazz. improvised and electronic music. Martland also draws on musicians from non-classical sources in his group, and remains adamant that he is not interested in more conventional orchestral settings.
‘Apart from [la/2i l’ar. l’ve never written for orchestra. What's the point? Most of them hate the music. and aren‘t remotely interested in performing it. i think it's best to operate more like a pop group. and I atn incredibly lucky to have these musicians — they understand what l am trying to do. and they know how to get it across to the people who want to hear it.‘
Radically different musics. then. but perhaps if there is a link between these two events. it lies in that refusal to conform to the expectations and prejudices of their respective prevailing musical establishments. in their different ways. both the Stockhausen dynasty and Martland are engaged in a process of musical rebellion.
The Steve Mart/and Band and Me Smith Quartet play at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh on Fri 20 and 'I‘rannvay in Glasgow on Sat 2/ .' Stockhausen Plays .S'Im'k/raasen at the BBC Studios in Edinburgh on Sat 21. and The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on Sun 22.
Bard for life
liext year is the centenary ot the death oi Robert Burns, Scotland's national bard, and the world’s best- known poet. The festivals, the Scottish Tourist Board promotions, the television and radio programmes, the tours, tartan tammles and tea towels are all being planned, and no doubt even the most ardent Burnslan will have had enough by the end of it all. But as we move into this year’s season oi Burns Suppers, let me recommend a gala concert that does
lull justice to iiabble’s great love oi
Dougie MacLean: cooking up 3 Burns Supper music; he was one oi the great songwriters, an avid collector oi traditional and tolk song, and an aspiring iiddler.
On a Highland tour, Burns once had a meeting with the legendary liell Cow at the great ilddler’s home near Dunkeld. It’s now a walk irom there to the home and recording studio oi songwriter, singer and tlddler Dougie MacLean. who, with Dick Caughan, Jean Redpath and tlddler Alasdair Fraser, Rod Paterson and Iain Johnstone, Patsy Seddon and Mary
MacMaster oi Slleas, and presenter Billy Kay, performs at this major event in Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre.
‘I grew up with Burns songs,’ MacLean remembers. ‘My Mum and Dad knew them, and i absorbed them very early. it was only much later i realised how they sat so comiortably with modern songs. I think it was because they were written for the right reasons, with great power and passion. it you make something out of genuine emotion, you capture something of it. You tap into that again when you sing it. Songs like that salve your soul, become like food to you.
‘I sometimes think he was born 200 years too early. He’s so much like ourselves. lie was poignant, clever, political, but he wasn't afraid to be romantic. And above all, there’s his honesty.’
A last word irom Dougie, who is no stranger to creating music tor film and advertising: ‘lle also did the odd commission . . .ior the readiesl' (llorman Chalmers)
The Burns Concert Is at Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Sun 22. Dougie MacLean plays Celtic Connections, Glasgow, with a concert on Wed 18 and a masterclass on Thurs 19.
34 The List 13-26 January 1995