Mark Stroppa: Space

review stroppa x1 cong

The release notes on this make it clear this is modern music: Stroppa “views composition as musical research” and is “constantly aware of the dual nature of artistic thought, the discourse about the thought and the thought itself”. On this release, the Ensemble KNM Berlin “explores the topological qualities of the sound worlds” it says.

In other words: don’t expect to come away whistlin’ a merry tune.

Stroppa also works with computers (musically, not just as a day job), but this recording seems to be all proper instruments.

All that aside, we’ve had a lot very nice music to listen to lately — as in tunes, melodies, boring stuff like that — and this programme does make a welcome change. You’d not play it every day but it’s not as difficult as one might suppose.

This is partly helped by the opening sections. The first work is Hommage à Gy K (Gy K being György Kurtág, an award-winning Hungarian classical composer and pianist, but you knew that). This work is made up seven short pieces; the second introduces a playful theme, the rather stark piano being chased round by a jolly clarinet. Jolly in the sense of Prince Charles laughing stiffly during a Royal visit, admittedly, but still; it makes the album seem more approachable.

Hommage is gentle, and towards the end drifts into a place where sounds and silence sit side by side. Clarinet/bass clarinet, viola and piano feature.

The other major work is Osja, Seven Strophes For A Literary Drone, inspired by Russian poet Joseph Brodsky; the poem depicts a woman “through the mental eyes of a blind man”. It combines the feel of a rather fevered inner space with a rather celestial feel from the violin.

It’s edgy and interesting, though it’s experimental sound poetry as opposed to music in the conventional sense.

This is out on Wergo, 7372 2.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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