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Through His Teeth #7: Working with two keyboards

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 28 December 2013

For the last few years, I’ve been working quite often with quartertones, and the most effective way I find of just practically hearing these notes is by having a second keyboard, so that one keyboard is tuned a quartertone below the other one. With a single keyboard you could obviously imagine what the quartertone would sound like, but I prefer to actually hear the physical sounds.

Keyboard: Kevin MaubanI got my second keyboard about a year ago. Up until that point I’d actually used a guitar and a banjo, tuning those down a quartertone – it was ok, but it wasn’t very effective.

You can of course use computers as well, but I don’t like doing this sort of creative composing on the computer. I feel that especially with most notation software it’s limiting, you end up writing more what works on the computer than actually what works on the instruments or on the voices.

So I thought it was important to get this second keyboard if I wanted to explore different tunings and different quartertones – I suppose if I worked on eighth tones or third tones I’d just have to keep getting more and more of them. But I think that at the moment quartertones are enough.

Luke Bedford

Find out more about Through His Teeth.

Through His Teeth #6: Why quartertones

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 23 December 2013

Through His Teeth #5: Instrumentation

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 20 December 2013

Luke Bedford: sample scoreLuke Bedford on the instrumentation of Through His Teeth:

Through His Teeth is scored for eight instruments. It’s quite a small ensemble, but I tried to get as big a range of colours and sounds as I could out of that. So there are quite a few instruments that are capable of playing chords. There is a harp, there is an accordion, there’s various tuned percussions, and there’s violin, cello and bass. And against that there is also a clarinet and a trumpet. It’s a kind of small, mixed ensemble.

I tried also to balance it as much as I could, so I count the accordion as a sort of wind instrument. So there’s a clarinet, trumpet and accordion doing some wind-side of things, there are three strings, and then the harp and the percussion as tuned instruments.

Because of the quartertones, it had to be instruments that can play them better than others. Obviously for the harp, percussion and accordion, it’s not easy to get quartertones on, but for the other instruments, especially the strings and trumpet, it’s something that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

I decided that the singers were not going to be singing in quartertones – these are only heard from the ensemble. It’s partly a practical thing: some singers can obviously sing quartertones, but others find it very hard. And for a while I wondered whether if the note was strong enough in the ensemble, whether it would be ok to use it in the voice. But in the end I decided against it: partly just to keep things clear in my own head, but also for the singers – they’ve probably got enough to do anyways without worrying about the quartertones.

So it’s something that is happening from the music surrounding the characters really, it’s something in the air. They never go into that directly.

Webern’s op. 21: “time goes backwards as well as forwards”

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 18 December 2013

Tom Service“Rather, the thing is that all of this structural unity creates a symphonic form that sounds neither completely predictable nor totally random. […] This is an emotionally moving experience, too, in the range of expression Webern conjures, which includes heightened, violent lyricism as well as pointillist brilliance.”

Here is Tom Service’s take on Anton Webern’s Symphonie, op. 21, written for The Guardian’s Symphony guide. Read the full review here.

Through His Teeth #4: Working with David Harrower

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 18 December 2013

Composer Luke Bedford talks about working with Scottish playwright David Harrower and how they created the characters for their upcoming chamber opera Through His Teeth. The interview was recorded in Berlin in October 2013.

Schreker’s Schatzgräber: “The music makes it credible because it deals in real emotions.”

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 18 December 2013

Franz Schreker: Der SchatzgräberAndrew Clements of the The Guardian reviews the new Challenge Classics recording of Franz Schreker’s Der Schatzgräber [The Treasure Hunter], recorded by Marc Albrecht, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Opera Chorus at the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam in autumn 2012.

Read the full review on The Guardian.

Through His Teeth #3: Keynote

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 12 December 2013

Luke Bedford on the story line of Through His Teeth:

Luke Bedford (c) Universal Edition, Jonathan IronsI’ve been speaking to David Harrower, who has written the libretto for the new opera, about what kind of subject or theme we wanted to play with. David very often works with true stories as a starting point, either things from newspaper reports or something you have heard.

We’d been speaking to the Royal Opera House about doing this piece, and they asked whether we’d be interested in doing something on the subject of Faust – which initially we weren’t over the moon about. A sort of traditional telling of the Faust stories has been done so many times that we were quite unsure about what we could add to that. So we knew that we had to find our own take on that, a different way of doing it.

Read the full text on our seperate blog on Through His Teeth.

Tom Service interviews Haas, broadcast of in vain

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 11 December 2013

Georg Friedrich Haas, Tom Service (c) Universal Edition, Sarah Laila Standke
Tom Service
has interviewed Georg Friedrich Haas before the London Sinfonietta’s sold out performance of in vain (conductor: Emilio Pomàrico) on 6 December at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

The interview and the recording of in vain will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s contemporary music programme Hear and Now on 18 January.

Universal Edition interviewed

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 11 December 2013

RadioUniversal Edition managing director Astrid Koblanck and promotion manager Wolfgang Schaufler have recently been interviewed by Alexander Musik for the TonArt series on music publishers. Listen to a recording of the show online at WDR 3.

Furthermore, Wolfgang Schaufler is a guest at tonight’s Nachtquartier at Ö1. The programme starts on Thursday, 12 December, 00:08 a.m., a live stream is available.

Both shows are in German.

Through His Teeth #2: June 2013

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 December 2013

This is the interview with Luke Bedford that was mentioned in the introduction of this blog. It was conducted in June 2013, when Through His Teeth was still without a title. Harrower and Bedford already had very clear ideas about the storyline and the instrumentation, however.

Read our seperate blog on Through His Teeth.

Oliver Coates releases Towards the blessed islands

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 December 2013

Oliver Coates: Towards the blessed islandsDavid Fennessy’s The room is the resonator is the first track of Oliver Coates’ recently released album Towards the blessed islands, which features eight cello pieces that were recorded in “churches, tombs, disused oil rigs and […] railway stations at night.”

Listen to a complete recording of The room is the resonator on Fluid Radio.

Oliver Coates, who performed the world première of The room is the resonator in 2009, in an interview on Towards the blessed islands.

The recording is available here.

Through His Teeth #1: Introduction

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 09 December 2013

In June 2013 we conducted a video interview with composer Luke Bedford about his upcoming chamber opera Through His Teeth. The opera was commissioned by the Royal Opera House and will première on 3 April 2014.

Luke Bedford (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschIntrigued by the composer’s words, we decided that we’d continue to document the work’s process of creation. Starting today we will provide you with regular updates regarding the development of Through His Teeth, ranging from the composing of the score and the writing of David Harrower’s libretto to the actual printing of the score and its production – who knows, we might even catch the postman when he finally delivers the score to Sian Edwards and the Royal Opera House.

What will the rehearsals at the ROH look like? Do you want to catch a sneak peek of the score before the première? Now’s your chance.

This post and all future posts in this series will be available on our page dedicated to Through His Teeth, which you can find here.

Adam’s Lament nominated for Best Classical Composition

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 09 December 2013

Arvo Pärt (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschArvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament has been nominated for Best Classical Composition and for Best Choral Performance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.

Furthermore Manfred Eicher, producer of the ECM New Series recording of Adam’s Lament, is nominated as Producer of the Year, Classical.


Kaddish by Alexander Krein performed in L.A.

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 07 December 2013

UCLA Philharmonia, Neal Stulberg (c) UCLA PhilharmoniaAlexander Krein’s Kaddish will be performed on Sunday, 8 December, at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA) by the UCLA Philharmonia, the UCLA Chorale and the UCLA University Chorus under Neal Stulberg.

Also on the programme: Mohammed Fairouz’ Tahrir and Symphony No. 3.

Find out more about Alexander Krein.

Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph on Mahler and Janáček

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 06 December 2013

Leoš Janáček (c) Leoš Janáček Foundation Gustav Mahler (c) Universal Edition

Ivan Hewett’s Classic 50 Nos. 48 and 49 are by Gustav Mahler and Leoš Janáček respectively. You can read the articles by clicking on the names of the composers.