Author Topic: Finnissy's Wake  (Read 3747 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2014, 08:29:20 AM »
Finnissy strikes me as your typical 60s era atheist? Aren't the titles of some of his pieces somewhat anti-religion in general?

aside- why is it that so many of the most technical Composers claim a non-God position? It's as if they really believe that Religion in and of itself is some baby-coo fairy tale with no Complexity at all, as if the Creator didn't create an irreducible Complexity--- as if God Himself couldn't write Music more Complex than them all combined. I mean, reeeally, Mr. Composer-Atheist-- art thou really so filled with numbers that you didn't even create? Who Created your Formulas? Who KNEW where they were before you did?

Well there is This Church, and quite a lot of Christian choral music, I think I read somewhere that he caught christianity quite recently.

I do recommend that you get hold of the third quartet. I've been listening to it a lot and it repays attention. Masterpiece.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 09:16:05 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2014, 10:41:43 AM »
I've always had a hard time with his piano music, apart from English Country Tunes. And maybe the Verdi Arrangements. I just don't get the Gershwin Arrangements at all, and I maybe need to give more time to History of Photography.

I wonder how much is due to the pianists. The composer plays English Country Tunes while the rest are Ian Pace.
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2014, 04:25:52 PM »
I wonder how much is due to the pianists. The composer plays English Country Tunes while the rest are Ian Pace.

Ian Pace is one of the best pianists for new music around, and Finnissy himself is respectable, so I doubt you will be able to do much better than that, especially with the degree of difficulty of these works. I personally am a fan of the hyper-complexity shown in his piano music, but that's just me.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2014, 10:43:21 PM »
Ian Pace is one of the best pianists for new music around, and Finnissy himself is respectable, so I doubt you will be able to do much better than that, especially with the degree of difficulty of these works. I personally am a fan of the hyper-complexity shown in his piano music, but that's just me.

Do you really enjoy the Gershwin? It seemed tired and tame to me, in comparison to English Country Tunes.

Pace certainly has chops, and stamina. And he is clearly committed to Finnissy's music. Nicholas Hodges plays Etched in Bright Sunlight, and I think it's a more interesting performance than Pace's. Vice versa in Snowdrift.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 11:35:35 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2014, 10:53:25 PM »
Do you really enjoy the Gershwin? It seemed tired and tame to me, in comparison to English Country Tunes.

I think there are gems in the Gershwin, but I would agree that it is a bit too tame on the whole. I'll take English Country Tunes over it.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2014, 11:15:16 PM »
Did you enjoy History of Photography?

It reminds me of Finnegan's Wake or Pound's Cantos. The title of this thread was chosen by a genius. You know, you can't just read Finnegan's  Wake, you have to decode it. With History of Photography, to get at the meaning,  you have to identify each intertextual reference and see what Finnissy's done with it. A lot of work, and I'm not sure how rewarding it would be. Naive listening - without knowing the sources being photographed in the music, and their cultutal meanings, isn't a good way to approach the music.

This is a very distinctive aspect to Finnissy's music, the prominence of transforming existing music. Of course Joyce did the same with language.

Do you think that's right? I really should spend more time with it.

Sometimes Finnissy's not like that at all. Snowdrift sounds like a straightforward piece of impressionist music like Night Fantasies.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 11:35:00 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2014, 11:43:35 PM »
(Posted for quick reference)

Programme note by Finnissy on the Verdi Trasncriptions

"These pieces are, and quite obviously from the start, not simply about Verdi. They form a critique of a musical culture which is over-saturated in its past. About a world which is cushioning itself in mythology as an alternative to addressing the present. How? By dissection, analysis, parody and by self-dramatised intent.

"Verdi is an emotional and political artist, perhaps not always as sophisticated as some, but always and sometimes abrasively honest, and – in case there is any doubt about it – I have loved his music deeply since I first encountered it in my late teens. This cycle employs material from all of Verdi’s operas (some more than once), from his String Quartet and from the opening section of his Requiem.

"The work is divided into four sequences, each containing nine ‘transcriptions’. The second of these sequences is dedicated to Stephen Pruslin, the third to Marilyn Nonken and the fourth to Jonathan Powell.

"They are called ‘transcription’ not only in deference to the nineteenth century ‘tradition’ of virtuosic pianism (amply elucidated by Busoni), but also because each one is written ‘through’ rather than mapped out, the nine sub-sections of each sequence are designedly continuous, rather than self-contained entities.

"The operas are arranged in chronological order, and each of the four sequences has roughly the same shape. The opening transcription of each sequence occurs in ever higher registers of the piano keyboard, the fifth of each sequence turns Verdi’s original into a cantus firmus (located alternately in the left and right hands). A rapid and staccato ‘scherzando’ section is placed near the beginning of each, and an extended ‘fantasia’ occupies a fairly central position in all four sequences.

"The material is treated with the same flexibility and subjectivity as the folk-music in Folklore, and as in that work the conventions and attitudes which have shaped our current (maybe ‘my current’) notions of music (either ethnic or Verdian) are part of the dialectic and stucture (as Pasolini remarked of his Saint Matthew, that is drew from the original gospel PLUS the intervening two thousand years of Christianity).

"This work was started in 1972 and completed in 2005."

« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 11:47:40 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2014, 11:47:02 PM »
So looking at the above, it sounds as though Ian Pace has only recorded the first half of the Verdi.
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Offline edward

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2014, 12:07:56 PM »
I've always had a hard time with his piano music, apart from English Country Tunes. And maybe the Verdi Arrangements. I just don't get the Gershwin Arrangements at all, and I maybe need to give more time to History of Photography.

I wonder how much is due to the pianists. The composer plays English Country Tunes while the rest are Ian Pace.
I think the choice of performer may be significant. Pace, though a phenomenal pianist, seems to prefer recording in an acoustic that I find too dry for my taste. Have you tried any of Nic Hodges' Finnissy recordings as an alternative? There's quite a bit of overlap with Ian Pace in them.
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Offline edward

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2015, 06:37:27 PM »
Our friend at 5against4 has posted a recording of the Proms premiere of Finnissy's new orchestral homage to Sibelius. After a couple of listens, I'm really rather impressed, even if I'm not sure how much the music has to do with Sibelius. However, those expecting hyper-complex non-tonal music may be in for a bit of a surprise.

Link: http://5against4.com/2015/08/18/proms-2015-michael-finnissy-janne-world-premiere/
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Offline Luke

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2015, 10:12:32 PM »
I was going to post precisely this link somewhere too, for the same reason - I think this is a rather wonderful piece and impressive enough to warrant me plugging it here, but obviously you felt the impetus even more, Edward! The only thing I'd differ with you on slightly is that personally I did hear the ineffable essence of Sibelius floating through much of this music, but without any superficial quotations, just a likeness of thought, of texture, of character. I'm not sure how Finnissy did it, but it impressed me a great deal

BTW, to emphasize, 5:4's blog is very well worth exploring, it is packed with goodies and extremely well put together, though there is a rare and tiny error in his write-up of this particular piece in that he implies Finnissy has added a glock to the orchestra Sibelius uses in Symphonies 3+4 - whereas it is in 4 already, quite strikingly (prominent and significant solos in the last movement) and I'd assume that this is exactly why Finnissy made sure to use it too.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2015, 11:39:42 PM »
I think the choice of performer may be significant. Pace, though a phenomenal pianist, seems to prefer recording in an acoustic that I find too dry for my taste. Have you tried any of Nic Hodges' Finnissy recordings as an alternative? There's quite a bit of overlap with Ian Pace in them.

Hodges is particularly good in Snowdrift. I can't say that History of Photography has opened up for me either in Pace's hands or in Hodges's. Maybe I'll give it some time again soon, but my feeling is that you need to immerse yourself in the intertextual references more than I'm prepared to do at the moment.

Sibelius floating through much of this music


Indeed I caught a clear whiff of Sibelius too. More clearly than a whiff of Haydn in the quartet or a whiff of Verdi in the transcriptions.

Maybe it's just my mood but this Sibelius thing came across as a bit tame on first listening through my computer, I'll play it again through the hifi later on.

The last thing I really enjoyed by Finnissy was A propos de Nice.


BTW, to emphasize, 5:4's blog is very well worth exploring

Yes I'm enjoying exploring Richard Barrett's Nacht und Traume
« Last Edit: August 20, 2015, 11:44:16 PM by Mandryka »
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5against4

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2015, 12:39:39 PM »
BTW, to emphasize, 5:4's blog is very well worth exploring, it is packed with goodies and extremely well put together, though there is a rare and tiny error in his write-up of this particular piece in that he implies Finnissy has added a glock to the orchestra Sibelius uses in Symphonies 3+4 - whereas it is in 4 already, quite strikingly (prominent and significant solos in the last movement) and I'd assume that this is exactly why Finnissy made sure to use it too.

Luke - can i express a doubleglut of thanks for your kind remarks? i'm particularly grateful that you pointed out my error re. the glock. i don't mind confessing that, despite being something of a symphonyphile, i've never got round to immersing myself in Sibelius' symphonies. Until, that is, about a month ago, when i began the journey - but as i haven't got to No. 4 yet, i wasn't aware of the presence of the glock. In mitigation, your honour, i did consult the scores of both symphonies, and assumed that what was present on page 1 was the entirety of the forces used throughout (as it often is); i've just taken a gander at the fourth movement and - behold! - there's the glock. So thanks very much for this; i've amended the text to remove my erroneous reference, and thereby keep up the pretence that i'm an all-round musical cleverclogs who totally knows his stuff. (Which sometimes i do.) But you get the kudos. *doffs cap*

(PS. Thanks to Edward too - nice to be described as a 'friend'!)

Offline Luke

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2015, 01:46:14 PM »
...and thereby keep up the pretence that i'm an all-round musical cleverclogs who totally knows his stuff...

If it is a pretence, it is paying off - I must say I find your blog simply the best of its type anywhere out there, and I greatly appreciate the music you make available, the detailed, insightful and often witty critiques you give along side it (I've often been found chortling over your bon mots, and then had to try to explain to my wife...), the 'extras' you put up when you can (programme notes, scores etc) and above all the efforts you make to do such an impressive job of it. Actually I feel somewhat embarrassed that I pointed out that solitary erratum now, because my only feelings towards your blog are of genuine, knee-bending gratitude.

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2015, 03:57:20 PM »
Luke - can i express a doubleglut of thanks for your kind remarks? i'm particularly grateful that you pointed out my error re. the glock. i don't mind confessing that, despite being something of a symphonyphile, i've never got round to immersing myself in Sibelius' symphonies. Until, that is, about a month ago, when i began the journey - but as i haven't got to No. 4 yet, i wasn't aware of the presence of the glock. In mitigation, your honour, i did consult the scores of both symphonies, and assumed that what was present on page 1 was the entirety of the forces used throughout (as it often is); i've just taken a gander at the fourth movement and - behold! - there's the glock. So thanks very much for this; i've amended the text to remove my erroneous reference, and thereby keep up the pretence that i'm an all-round musical cleverclogs who totally knows his stuff. (Which sometimes i do.) But you get the kudos. *doffs cap*

(PS. Thanks to Edward too - nice to be described as a 'friend'!)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #35 on: August 21, 2015, 11:40:02 PM »
Does anyone have a recording of the string trio they can let me have? I think it appeared on an old Etcetera CD of chamber music, which I would like to buy but it's rare and hence quite expensive.
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5against4

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2015, 12:30:44 AM »
Actually I feel somewhat embarrassed that I pointed out that solitary erratum now, because my only feelings towards your blog are of genuine, knee-bending gratitude.

No, i think the minutiae are all-important, so it is good you mentioned it - it's changed how i perceive Michael's piece slightly (as i now know he's replicated Sibelius' instrumentation exactly), and when i get to Sibelius No. 4, that final movement will no doubt now make me smile.

Incidentally, as i don't really frequent internet fora that often, i'm glad there's a Finnissy topic happening here; he's a really fascinating composer (and, as it happens, one of my composition PhD supervisors) so it's encouraging that there's some appreciation for his work going on here. For those interested, i'm intending to feature his 50-minute piano work 'Beat Generation Ballads' (which was premièred at last year's HCMF) on the blog sometime in the autumn.

Does anyone have a recording of the string trio they can let me have? I think it appeared on an old Etcetera CD of chamber music, which I would like to buy but it's rare and hence quite expensive.

i've checked, and not only do i not have the CD but it's not among my radio recordings archive either; i'm surprised there hasn't been a more recent recording of this piece, as it's really rather good.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 12:35:30 AM by 5against4 »

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2016, 08:47:49 PM »
Did you enjoy History of Photography?

It reminds me of Finnegan's Wake or Pound's Cantos. The title of this thread was chosen by a genius. You know, you can't just read Finnegan's  Wake, you have to decode it. With History of Photography, to get at the meaning,  you have to identify each intertextual reference and see what Finnissy's done with it. A lot of work, and I'm not sure how rewarding it would be. Naive listening - without knowing the sources being photographed in the music, and their cultutal meanings, isn't a good way to approach the music.

This is a very distinctive aspect to Finnissy's music, the prominence of transforming existing music. Of course Joyce did the same with language.

Do you think that's right? I really should spend more time with it.

Sometimes Finnissy's not like that at all. Snowdrift sounds like a straightforward piece of impressionist music like Night Fantasies.

Again I have looked into MF's Piano Music, and, mm, there's just something too "dirty"- I don't know how to describe the pseudo-improv style that HAS all the notes, written, but sounds like Busoni improvising on LSD. Busoni is another one who sounds to me in this "filthy" way. Is it all the notes, the sense that there are notes "to be cleaned up"? There is certainly a superfluous amount of notes, which does have a "hazy" effect-

anyhow-

I like what I consider his "Original" Compositions, like 'Snowdrift', which comes off like any cool slice of High Modernism, and I liked the twinkling 'Etched Bright With Sunlight'. But, so many of his pieces clock in right around 26 minutes, and, sorry,you can't write THAT many half hour pieces and there not be longeurs(?). But then, on the flip side, he writes a bunch of "minute trifles",- and- maybe here's where I protest,- there's so much of this American Nostalgia, and maudlin - hooow many times have I heard jazzy lounge avant nutz?-

It's like I want to say, "OK, I GET it. But can you play something I WANT to here?"

And what is it we want to hear? Probably 'Snowdrift'...


Like the Liszt vs. Paganini (I forget the title) 'History of Photography'- aye- haven't I heard this before?- maybe we haven't, but, for me, the stench of "old timey" is what I have a problem with this sentimentalizing  that's going on with cheeky-meets-avant. Maybe I have the same problem with Rzewski(?)?



I've only had one piece, the 'Photography- Grieg' piece, quite long, and I listened to it sternly recently, and, oy, yes, it  makes it's point, but, arf, whyWhyWHY? does it have to SOUND SO BORING? Minutes go by in the pattern, and then a blizzard of notes suggests what we have just heard flick by in 1/1000 speed. But then it's back to this slow "click, click, click", like tediously putting the act of stop-motion-animation to music. That's literally what it sounds like, and, after 25 minutes of this I feel like someone very talented has wasted my time.

However, others like all this, and maybe its different 'live'? At this point I don't think it matters who plays Finnissy. Everyone involved knows to 'swing' it, so, they all come off as the "perfect" jazz pianist- maybe that's Finnissy's legacy- being the first "good" Jazz Pianist? So that Pianists of High Modernism can play the jazz game and beat it?

Sounds great on paper...

I just don't care for how it sounds.

To me, there's that element of pretense. I don't particularly care for Gershwin, or Opera, Broadway, Negro Spirituals, so I don't really care for them all "souped up". I mean, there's a way to do a Spiritual, and then not.


So then I just got the 'North American Spirituals' (for the Babbitt) by Nonkin, and, I haven't made it far in, but I'm having the "oh noes, is it going to happen again?" feeling.

Maybe the single best CD is 'Etched Bright With Sunlight'? Pure and simple?

And then maybe the String Quartets 2-3?
(cause I wasn't to keen on the othe SQ disc)


I feel a little the same way about Jonathan Harvey, though I've enjoyed him more.

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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Finnissy's Wake
« Reply #38 on: January 16, 2017, 02:17:52 PM »
You won't like it because it includes singing. Not human singing though.

Finally listened to the NMC recordings of SQs 2-3. Well, mm... I was so self misinformed about what I might hear that I was completely... left flat as to both works. I felt like I was hearing that 'ole "fragmented Romantic muisc mixed with microtonal mushes" thing that I heard in the other recital.

I was totally expecting "blizzards" and instead got a sunny afternoon in the park as one is dozing off and things mush together...

And I had listened to String Quartet (No.1) and realized this was the piece that's ultra quiet and quite static for seven minutes and then erupts into a maelstrom, and then goes back at the end.


So, I have been trying, and mucho failing at Finnissy. Again, the two random 'History-Photo' works I have and the N.American Ballads don't do anything for me. I think he rises and falls according to the 'Etched Bright' disc, and that's all.


So, I'm putting Finnissy to sleep in my world. I feel sad, but it's not like I'm going to existential over his music... I know puts an existential element in his music, but for all I've tried I can't overcome the "feeling" of pretentiousness. Whether it's there or not doesn't matter; it's what I'm hearing.

Maybe with the pianists it's one thing, but hearing the Kreutzer SQ so lovingly present his string music in perfect renditions, I'm sure of the effect Finnissy is putting forth, but I just CAN'T buy it- it's just not "real" or something- lol, it's an "unvalid" approach. I know I know, but I'm hearing it that way (same problem with the likes of Zorn)...


And, forgive me, but, forget what I just said- I just find it all boring, everything I've heard other than the collected pieces on the 'Etched' disc. Yea, I was really disappointed in the last two quartets :( :( :(

Why is so much British Avant Garde so dreary to me???????grey and rainy skies in all this music is what I hear...
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