Take 5: Musical Highlights 2010
Arjun von Caemmerer
1. Zappa 70th Celebrations 2010 (The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London)
Day 1 (November 5): The London Contemporary Orchestra conducted by Hugh Brunt in the UK premiere of 12 selections from Zappa’s The Yellow Shark.
An eructation of excellence from The Dog Breath Variations to G Spot Tornado!
Day 2 (November 6): Zappa played Zappa: Frank dead, but undiminished; his son Dweezil spot lit, but unshadowed. The highlights: a lengthy golden-haired Rdnzl; variations on The Gumbo Variations; Läther in its succulent particulars; and Apostrophe (‘), the album entire & without a comma.
Day 3 (November 7): The London Sinfonietta conducted by Nicholas Collon
Whilst appetite was whet via Varèse’s Octandre & The Pierre Boulez Memoriale Barbeque, the kindling flared brightest in an incendiary performance of Zappa’s comepic The Adventures of Greggery Peccary.
Mike Keneally’s variegated & stunning compositional response to Normalizer II, drummer Mark Minnemann’s 52 minute improvised solo, around which a number of guitarist/composers — Mike being the most recent — have woven their counterpoint. Despite the excellence of Alex Machacek’s 24 Tales this has to be the best batch yet. And the bonus DVD Elements of a Manatee is no mere stocking filler, but an audiovisual record of another magimusical and seemingly impossibly sympathetic improvisation betwixt these two maestri.
Phaze 1 (January 2010): Michael Kieran Harvey’s apt and unparalleled tribute to Zappa: a cycle of 10 movements for piano (enfolded in the space of an hour) was unleashed on 4 keyboards over 4 floors in the atmospherically charged Bond Store section of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery at Hobart’s Mona Foma.
Phaze 2 & 3 (July 2010): At ANAM for Piano! (& coincidentally on his 49th birthday) MKH was lavish with his gifts: a stratospheric performance, in which surprisingly (but true to its fugueish roots) improvisatory elements surfaced. And also: the launch of the move records studio recording of this brilliant composition.
O Happy Disc-Oeuvres! The existence of my all-time favourite orchestral Bartók piece — his scandalously banned pantomime of sex and death — in 2 different versions for duo piano: Bartók’s own piano reduction played scintillatingly by Ákos Hernándi and Karoly Moscari, and another, this based on Peter Bartók’s 2000 definitive edition of the score (from his father’s written manuscripts and corrections), in a performance of more sobriety and gravitas, by Jean-François Heisser and Marie-Josèphe Jude.
5. Galumphing ‘Round The Nation CD
The Andrea Keller Quartet’s latest release, which I volunteered to review for extempore. I was somewhat unqualified to do so, but sometimes one just jumps foolishly in – and what I found here was Music: good for swimming in, great for drowning in.
About Arjun von Caemmerer
Arjun von Caemmerer (born in England in 1964) teaches at, and co-runs, the Hobart School of Iyengar Yoga, and works as a general medical practitioner in family practice. Under the umbrella of A Doctored Document he has published several collections of concrete poetry, most recently configurations (2006). Lingua Franka, his concrete poetry homage to Frank Zappa, was exhibited alongside the world premiere of Michael Kieran Harvey’s 48 Fugues For Frank at the Hobart Mona Foma in January 2010. He has had poetry published in extempore and has also reviewed music for the extempore website.