Author Topic: Ferneyhough's Plough  (Read 14460 times)

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Offline snyprrr

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Ferneyhough's Plough
« on: September 29, 2009, 08:22:59 AM »
Yea, I'm sure no one can accuse Ferneyhough of being "cheezee"! ;D (cheeeze!)

I have the two Arditti discs, one with SQs 1-3, the other with SQ No.4, a guitar piece, double-bass piece, and violin concerto. I also haves Funerailles on an Erato disc.

Does anyone have a Ferneyhough score? I hear his paper looks similar to the "score" shown by Josquin in his Diner thread. His music has a kind of improv sound to it, and I wonder if this is what makes him so "complex": the total control over ever parameter, so that even if someone is only playing a single note, F. could be directing the player in various ways?

The first SQ from 1969, Sonatas for String Quartet, is a forty-minute mass of archepeligo?-like communication. There's nothing particularly scary about it, though, for its time, it must have been unique (no one was writing "long" SQs in those days). By the time of SQ No.2, ten years later, we have our true introduction to the Ferneyhough sound, which, I can only describe as "a lot of stuff going on at once". By the time I first heard it (mid '90s) I must admit that whatever seemed outre about it when it was written seemed par for the course for me. Ferneyhough doesn't write outer space stuff like Xenakis, but seems more like the Boulez of his 1949 SQ Livre pour quatour: just a whole lot of busy busy notes. The SQ No.3 seems to take No.2 and expand upon it (much like Bartok's No.4 expands on No.3). I've enjoyed this Arditti disc for at least ten years, and it is always my go to when I'm in need of something highly complex.

The other DisquesMontaigne album features SQ No.4, with soprano, which, for me, works (not always a fan of the singing stuff). It buzzes and sizzles like shooting steam... yea, it's a hot mess!... but it continues in the same vein as the previous SQs, to my delight.

However, the guitar piece Kurze Schatten II is unbelievable. As a guitar player I can tell you that this piece is dynamite! Ferneyhough definitely goes over the top in complexity here, giving no mercy. I think it is the most complex guitar music I have heard, and it comes of as twines of DNA strands wriggling through each other. The double-bass piece, also, is quite impressive, though no match for Xenakis' Theraps.

The "violin concerto" Terrain, scored for a Varese-style wind ensemble with double-bass, is very successful, translating Ferneyhough's style to a more extrovert scoring. The same goes for Funerailles, from the seventies, which has splendiferous harp work.

One of the hallmarks of Ferneyhough's style is written pieces in two parts, as if writing the same piece over again from a differnet point of view, which suits me just fine.

I can't say that I'm all that eager to explore Ferneyhough's Time and Motion Studies, or anything else really, for that matter. I've heard sort of bad things about Shadowtime, and, frankly, at this point I like to keep it in the string family (I would like to hear the String Trio). As long as I just keep it to what I have, Ferneyhough will remain in my Top10 for years to come.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2012, 09:40:46 PM by snyprrr »
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2009, 02:42:37 PM »
I have a few scores and recordings of Ferneyhough and he is a composer I respect, although I was much more into his music in the late 90s.

Ferneyhough has the stance of writing music with 200% information on it, in the hope that even with unavoidable interpretation and less-than-perfect decoding on the part of the performer it can be played at 100% of what he imagined. This results in scores that are particularly dense, but also quite great to look at. This is part of an approach to the instrumentalist that is not very typical. If you can find them, read the comments of Pierre-Yves Artaud about Unity Capsule.

Here are some sample scores:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/13703271/Ferneyhough-Brian-Unity-Capsule-Full-Score
http://www.bmic.co.uk/collection/pdfs/6634w.pdf
http://www.bmic.co.uk/collection/pdfs/6620w.pdf
//p
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2009, 01:46:23 PM »
Ferneyhough has the stance of writing music with 200% information on it, in the hope that even with unavoidable interpretation and less-than-perfect decoding on the part of the performer it can be played at 100% of what he imagined.

I like that assessment.  (And at least one or two friends have said something similar, although not as concisely.)

And thanks for posting those score links.  His really have to be seen to be believed. 

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Offline bwv 1080

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2010, 08:38:43 AM »
Been listening to this great collection of BF Chamber music



it has the first recordings of "Coloratura" and "Allgebrah". both engaging pieces as well as some older works like the "Trittico per GS"
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Offline mjwal

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2010, 05:42:24 AM »
Snyprr:However, the guitar piece Kurze Schatten II is unbelievable. As a guitar player I can tell you that this piece is dynamite! Ferneyhough definitely goes over the top in complexity here, giving no mercy. I think it is the most complex guitar music I have heard, and it comes of as twines of DNA strands wriggling through each other.
One of the hallmarks of Ferneyhough's style is written pieces in two parts, as if writing the same piece over again from a different point of view, which suits me just fine.
I can't say that I'm all that eager to explore Ferneyhough's Time and Motion Studies, or anything else really, for that matter. I've heard sort of bad things about Shadowtime, and, frankly, at this point I like to keep it in the string family (I would like to hear the String Trio). As long as I just keep it to what I have, Ferneyhough will remain in my Top10 for years to come.


Some of the music in Shadowtime is in fact derived from that guitar piece, Snyprrr, and a lot of the music in it is instrumental. In its philosophical range, the "opera" (it's more like, say, Norgard's Nuit des hommes than anything you'd normally consider "operatic") resembles his earlier vocal/orchestral piece Transit, the first music I heard by him back in the mid-70s. The biggest stumbling block (unless one seeks harmonious consonance!) is probably Charles Bernstein's libretto, which might require a lifetime of reading Benjamin to understand in retrospect and is resolutely PoMo. Accept that it's about aspects of catastrophic modernity, liminal experience and the shadows of the past, or what René Girard has called violence and the sacred, and you can just listen, not too much encumbered by the need for dramatic coherence, as with Transit.
P.S. I recommend this as a brilliant introduction to Shadowtime -
 http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2005/Jul-Dec05/ferneyhough0907.htm
« Last Edit: August 26, 2010, 06:01:27 AM by mjwal »
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2010, 07:33:55 AM »
Snyprr:However, the guitar piece Kurze Schatten II is unbelievable. As a guitar player I can tell you that this piece is dynamite! Ferneyhough definitely goes over the top in complexity here, giving no mercy. I think it is the most complex guitar music I have heard, and it comes of as twines of DNA strands wriggling through each other.
One of the hallmarks of Ferneyhough's style is written pieces in two parts, as if writing the same piece over again from a different point of view, which suits me just fine.
I can't say that I'm all that eager to explore Ferneyhough's Time and Motion Studies, or anything else really, for that matter. I've heard sort of bad things about Shadowtime, and, frankly, at this point I like to keep it in the string family (I would like to hear the String Trio). As long as I just keep it to what I have, Ferneyhough will remain in my Top10 for years to come.


Some of the music in Shadowtime is in fact derived from that guitar piece, Snyprrr, and a lot of the music in it is instrumental. In its philosophical range, the "opera" (it's more like, say, Norgard's Nuit des hommes than anything you'd normally consider "operatic") resembles his earlier vocal/orchestral piece Transit, the first music I heard by him back in the mid-70s. The biggest stumbling block (unless one seeks harmonious consonance!) is probably Charles Bernstein's libretto, which might require a lifetime of reading Benjamin to understand in retrospect and is resolutely PoMo. Accept that it's about aspects of catastrophic modernity, liminal experience and the shadows of the past, or what René Girard has called violence and the sacred, and you can just listen, not too much encumbered by the need for dramatic coherence, as with Transit.
P.S. I recommend this as a brilliant introduction to Shadowtime -
 http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2005/Jul-Dec05/ferneyhough0907.htm

I am a guitarist also, and I just perused PetrArch's scores and saw Kurze Schatten II and thought I might try a few "measures", haha. I have the Montaigne recording, and, yes.if you say it's the mostest, I'll have to believe you. I am glad that when I first listened to it, in my brain I wasn't overwhelmed (meaning, I could see how one cooould play it, but I don't know if I could spend that amount of time on it). It is one quite crisp piece, though, eh?

We'll have to chat sometime about zee guitar.
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Offline mjwal

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2010, 08:18:41 AM »
Oh, I don't say it's the mostest, but it is intriguing, provocative (also in the literal sense of calling forth voices), returnable to. As to the guitar, as a non-musician I know nothing (zilch) about it - but I do like the sounds it can make.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter

Offline Sylph

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2011, 05:47:15 AM »
Has his Plötzlichkeit ("suddenness, unexpectedness, abruptness, unpredictability") been recorded?


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Offline Sylph

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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2011, 05:37:17 PM »
The last two links are dead.

How dooo you learn to write like that? :o ???
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Offline Sylph

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 08:19:13 PM »
How dooo you learn to write like that? :o ???

Like what?

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2011, 06:57:44 AM »
Like what?

I'm mean Ferneyhough,... that Unity Capsule score is mindboggling!
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2012, 12:26:30 PM »
I sent Kurze Schatten II to a guitarist friend to hope to find some middle ground with our tastes, and his messages ended with "i need to comfort eat now", then he went offline :-\

Anyway, an excuse to bump, also hope his latest quartets will be commercially recorded soon :)
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2012, 02:35:00 PM »
I sent Kurze Schatten II to a guitarist friend to hope to find some middle ground with our tastes, and his messages ended with "i need to comfort eat now", then he went offline :-\

Anyway, an excuse to bump, also hope his latest quartets will be commercially recorded soon :)

Somewhere???... I read, I think Neos or Aeon is recording the Cycle (with the Arditti of course),... that's going to be...ohhh boy, that's gonna be outrageous.
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2012, 02:36:24 PM »
I sent Kurze Schatten II to a guitarist friend to hope to find some middle ground with our tastes, and his messages ended with "i need to comfort eat now", then he went offline :-\

Anyway, an excuse to bump, also hope his latest quartets will be commercially recorded soon :)

About the guitarist,... really guy??? c'mon,... btw, I just found the mother lode of avant classical guitar, will Post shortly.
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ferneyhough's Fromagerie
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2012, 09:38:13 PM »
I sent Kurze Schatten II to a guitarist friend to hope to find some middle ground with our tastes, and his messages ended with "i need to comfort eat now", then he went offline :-\

Anyway, an excuse to bump, also hope his latest quartets will be commercially recorded soon :)

I'm really ready now for the Arditti set... any... day... now!
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Offline Cato

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Re: The Ferneyhough Mental Ear Challenge
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2012, 04:04:03 AM »
Intrigued by the comments, I perused this score recently:


http://www.scribd.com/doc/13703271/Ferneyhough-Brian-Unity-Capsule-Full-Score


The challenge is this: lets have Ferneyhough listen to 5 performances of this work.  One performance will have 10 errors, another 15, another 25, and another 35.  But one will follow his score perfectly.

Would he be able to identify the perfect performance? 

I do wonder about that!  Only an actual experiment would answer the question, of course.  Perhaps his powers of concentration are so great that the answer is yes! 
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 04:30:48 AM by Cato »
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Offline edward

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Re: The Ferneyhough Mental Ear Challenge
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2012, 05:31:26 AM »
Intrigued by the comments, I perused this score recently:


http://www.scribd.com/doc/13703271/Ferneyhough-Brian-Unity-Capsule-Full-Score


The challenge is this: lets have Ferneyhough listen to 5 performances of this work.  One performance will have 10 errors, another 15, another 25, and another 35.  But one will follow his score perfectly.

Would he be able to identify the perfect performance? 

I do wonder about that!  Only an actual experiment would answer the question, of course.  Perhaps his powers of concentration are so great that the answer is yes!
From what I've read of Ferneyhough's writings on music, it seems that his intention is somewhat different from encouraging a purely accurate performance. He appears to regard the incredible level of detail in his scores as more an attempt to force the performer into an attempt at a kind of post-Lisztian transcendental virtuosity, and to regard the absolute accuracy of a performance as less important than conveying the character of the music successfully.
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Offline Cato

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Re: The Ferneyhough Mental Ear Challenge
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2012, 09:38:38 AM »
From what I've read of Ferneyhough's writings on music, it seems that his intention is somewhat different from encouraging a purely accurate performance. He appears to regard the incredible level of detail in his scores as more an attempt to force the performer into an attempt at a kind of post-Lisztian transcendental virtuosity, and to regard the absolute accuracy of a performance as less important than conveying the character of the music successfully.

Thank you! I had an impression that the scores might be more guidelines than actual etched-in-stone instructions.

So performances could in fact vary widely.
"Now who taught ye t' be playin' patty fingers in the holy water?"

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Offline petrarch

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Re: The Ferneyhough Mental Ear Challenge
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2012, 11:29:09 AM »
From what I've read of Ferneyhough's writings on music, it seems that his intention is somewhat different from encouraging a purely accurate performance. He appears to regard the incredible level of detail in his scores as more an attempt to force the performer into an attempt at a kind of post-Lisztian transcendental virtuosity, and to regard the absolute accuracy of a performance as less important than conveying the character of the music successfully.

This.

The challenge is this: lets have Ferneyhough listen to 5 performances of this work.  One performance will have 10 errors, another 15, another 25, and another 35.  But one will follow his score perfectly.

Would he be able to identify the perfect performance? 

I do wonder about that!  Only an actual experiment would answer the question, of course.  Perhaps his powers of concentration are so great that the answer is yes! 

Anecdotally, in a hallway discussion about tempo, rhythmic complexity and irrational values with composer Emmanuel Nunes during an intermission in his composition masterclasses, I and some fellow attendees ended up posing a series of interesting challenges to the composer: We would choose a tempo (say, 85 bpm) and a value (say, septuplets), which Nunes would then proceed to replicate after a few seconds of mental preparation; he would signal us when he was ready to start the rhythmic figure, at which point we would start a stopwatch; when he was done counting and beating the notes, we stopped the stopwatch. All of his figures--we did maybe a dozen--were accurate to within a couple of hundredths of a second.

During another masterclass session with Nunes, we were analysing a passage in one of his orchestral works, and three of us were at the piano to play a big chord (it was perhaps a 15-note chord that included the total chromatic) and then discuss how it sounded. The noteworthy detail is that we played the chord, and after a couple of seconds of listening to it he mentioned there was a c# missing--and indeed, we forgot to play that c# note. There was nothing characteristic about the chord or the role of the c# in the chord that made it stand out in any particular way.
//p
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