Harrison Birtwistle Studies by David Beard, Kenneth Gloag, Nicholas Jones

By David Beard, Kenneth Gloag, Nicholas Jones

This number of essays celebrates the paintings of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, one of many key figures in ecu modern song. Representing present examine on Birtwistle's song, this booklet displays the variety of his paintings when it comes to sessions, genres, kinds, suggestions and similar concerns via a wide-range of severe, theoretical and analytical interpretations and views. Written by way of a workforce of foreign students, all of whom deliver a deep research-based wisdom and perception to their selected research, this assortment extends the scholarly realizing of Birtwistle via new engagements with the fellow and the song. The individuals supply precise reports of Birtwistle's engagement with digital tune within the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, and boost theoretical motives of his fascination with pulse, rhythm and time. in addition they discover intimately Birtwistle's curiosity in poetry, instrumental drama, gesture, procession and panorama, and view the compositional techniques that underpin those concerns.

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20 Arnold Whittall respect to soloist and orchestra at the concerto’s end, he does not exclude the possibility of some sense of that ultimate, if uneasy reconciliation of differences that Hall would have expected to occur. 8). It nevertheless seems more plausible, and aesthetically convincing, to propose something less singular – the combination of tentative reconciliation with continued disaffection, of conjunction with disjunction, the ‘drive’ towards D countered by a drifting away from it, though this resists echoing the decisive descent from D to C that marks the starkly dramatic ending of Earth Dances, as well as the rather melodramatic superimposition that ends The Shadow of Night.

11 See Arnold Whittall, ‘Dendritic Designs: Harrison Birtwistle’s String Quartet: The Tree of Strings’, The Musical Times, 152 (2011), 3–17; see also Chapter 6 in this present volume. 16 Arnold Whittall Nevertheless, to the extent that ‘drift’ is set apart from ‘drive’, and implies less forceful, less active qualities, it might be assumed to be less likely to become dominant in compositions which avoid naturally sustaining instruments, and in which the cumulative power of ostinato-like rhythmic patterns – or Aleksandra Vojčić’s ‘beat trains’12 – present the kind of superimposition of drifting and drivenness that the ‘White and Light’ of Pulse Shadows (1989–96) provides.

Though Hall never wrote about the latter, he might well have been able to bring it within his overall sense of a generic trajectory in which each contributing composition presents a variation on the theme of progress from conflict to reconciliation. Antiphonies (1992), for piano and orchestra, may be among Birtwistle’s most texturally complex scores – after all, ‘the volume of notes it can produce at any one time, its range and its sheer physical power, means that the piano is the only instrument which can match an orchestra on more or less equal terms’: yet, according to Hall, although each section tends to begin with piano and orchestra ‘deeply opposed .

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