Author Topic: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)  (Read 2944 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« on: June 02, 2016, 09:11:44 PM »
Just saw Gerald Barry's opera based on The Importance of Being Earnest (part of the New York Philharmonic's Biennial) and thought it a fascinating score (with some memorable effects such as dozens of smashed plates, two singers using bullhorns, and two unusual versions of Schiller's "Ode to Joy"). The eclectic music is enormously entertaining, often emphasizing the specific syllables of words, and the cast was excellent.

Here is the entire opera, live-streamed on YouTube on April 2, in the same production. I thought the direction, by Ramin Gray, was quite effective and hilarious. Comedy is difficult to do well, but Barry has adapted Wilde's play quite effectively.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U50kyZiwLZ0

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Offline not edward

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2016, 04:31:52 AM »
Note that there's a recording on NMC conducted by Thomas Ades, with a stellar lineup of soloists, including Barbara Hannigan.



I find Barry consistently interesting, even if I'm not always 100% convinced by the results. He reminds me of figures like Alkan, Tippett or Finnissy in his intentional embrace of "doing things the wrong way."
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2016, 08:22:00 AM »
Here is a CD of some of Barry's Orchestral music that you might try if you do not know it and if you were so inclined....


It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2016, 06:09:25 PM »
Note that there's a recording on NMC conducted by Thomas Ades, with a stellar lineup of soloists, including Barbara Hannigan.



I find Barry consistently interesting, even if I'm not always 100% convinced by the results. He reminds me of figures like Alkan, Tippett or Finnissy in his intentional embrace of "doing things the wrong way."

DOH - thanks, I keep forgetting about this. And I like that assessment, "intentional embrace of 'doing things the wrong way.'"

Here is a CD of some of Barry's Orchestral music that you might try if you do not know it and if you were so inclined....




I do not know it, and I am definitely inclined! Thanks...

--Bruce
“I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts.”

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

snyprrr

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2016, 07:03:43 PM »
I have the Black Box disc of Chamber Music, oy vey, the very definition of a Mixed-Bag. It's the dreary bits I like... like an overcast English day in 1977. But I hear nothing particularly exceptional; but, again, I like the anonymity.

Offline nathanb

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2016, 07:17:32 PM »
Not my favorite, but then again, I do feel I haven't listened to him enough. A few things (some of the operas, a couple orchestral works) sound quite promising, but when you're making lists like snyprrr and I have been obsessively posting, it takes a very long time to make the rounds to some of the lesser known corners.

Offline not edward

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2016, 01:41:54 PM »
Picked up this new Barry disc:



The title comes from the first and last tracks, a 40 minute diptych setting various of Beethoven's letters. Also here, a typically strange string quartet and three widely varied pieces for unaccompanied chorus.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2016, 02:07:21 PM »
I now have a copy, too! Haven't listened to any of it yet, but it does look intriguing.

--Bruce
“I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts.”

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2022, 11:30:47 AM »
How would one describe Gerald Barry’s music? I would find that a very difficult question to answer. He does not fit into any box for easy categorisation, that is for sure and good for him. Perhaps that is one of the best compliments that can be paid to him. He is very different and his music is certainly not formulaic.

I once wrote here that Gerald Barry definitely does his own thing. However, he is a very polarising composer as a result which, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people really love his music while others hate it. Frankly, I do not understand a lot of it but the bits that I do understand I find can be very exciting, thrilling even.

Here is Gerald Barry’s Wiki page = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Barry_(composer)

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2022, 11:52:43 AM »
Gerald Barry: Chamber and Solo Piano Works with Nua Nós, Noriko Kawai [piano] and Dáirine Ní Mheadhra [conductor] was released in 1994. It contains the following nine tracks:






1. Piano Quartet: 

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Bgf_Y24izEw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Bgf_Y24izEw</a>


I once wrote here about this work that it was raucous, robust, dissonant, dramatic, exhilarating, exciting, powerful, stimulating; pick your adjective and it will apply to this vibrant work! Yes it is all of that and now I also see the structure and cohesion in the work. I like the vibrant and challenging sound world with its many contrasts. I also like the work’s instant energy and drive.

Here is the Piano Quartet with a breakdown of its different sections. The Leaving Certificate is a state examination in Ireland. It is wonderfully amusing to read the various comments both good and bad.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/W8_5orrFWjU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/W8_5orrFWjU</a>



2. Au Milieu:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/V4WttHx19Tk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/V4WttHx19Tk</a>


I once described this work as being driven, exhausting, electrifying and relentless! I like the premise of exploring the scales and what can be done with and around such a simple idea. The variation in the dynamic range also holds one’s interest. Superbly presented by Noriko Kawai.


3. Triochic Blues [Solo Piano version]:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/V4WttHx19Tk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/V4WttHx19Tk</a>
 

This version of Triochic Blues is for solo piano. It is a short work that commences in the depths of the lower register and gradually meanders its way up the keyboard. It concludes at both ends of the keyboard simultaneously. It is a clever and engaging piece.


4. Bob:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Nab3Cib5OGg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Nab3Cib5OGg</a>

Bob is a work scored for 2 Clarinets/bass Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Marimba and Piano. It is written in a vibrant, electrifying and stimulating musical language that is energetic, exciting and engaging. I like the varying tones and atmospheres in the different sections of the work.


5. Sur Les Points:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/KrQgNbP84KE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/KrQgNbP84KE</a>

This work for solo piano is, for me, far too slow to get going. However, when it eventually does take off, it is an interesting and engaging sound world.


6. Swinging Tripes and Trillibubkins:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Havxuoieeko" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Havxuoieeko</a>

This short work for solo piano is quite intriguing and engaging. It is a shame that it is so short.


7. Triochic Blues [Solo Violin version]:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/3X7CnBtYOFQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/3X7CnBtYOFQ</a>

This version of Triochic Blues is for solo violin. In this version Barry gradually works the music up along the fingerboard. There is quite an amount of double stopping and this adds a wonderful layer of texture. An interesting difference between this and the piano version is that he concludes the work in the higher register making no attempt to come down very far from there.



8. “_______”:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/UZ3d7ITwMwM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/UZ3d7ITwMwM</a>

This is a work for 2 clarinets/bass clarinets, viola, cello, marimba, piano. It is basically an exercise in a chromatic scale which is given to each instrument in turn and then in various combinations. This feels like it was a work conceived and written on a piano and ultimately transcribed and re-scored for this ensemble. However, because of the continuous repetition, it eventually becomes uninteresting and boring. It is a work that, for me, cries out for development. We do get a glimpse of what could have been at the conclusion of the work. Alternatively, some constructive editing in the first section of the work may have yielded some interesting results and perhaps made for a more balanced work overall. This is a shame because the basic concept is good and I enjoy the sonic textures at play.


9. Sextet:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/uxpbJ-xGl-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/uxpbJ-xGl-8</a>

This is a work for clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, double bass, 2 marimbas and piano. It is quite a frolicing, playful and inventive piece. I really like scoring and textures.


It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2022, 04:51:16 AM »
Gerald Barry: Orchestral Works [Houlihan]





1. Of Queens Gardens
 
This is a relatively short work composed in 1986. I have liked it since I first heard it. I like the musical language of the work and the rich sonorities and textures of the scoring. I find it to be quite an imaginative work. The staccato element of the rhythms gives the music great forward momentum and Houlihan drives the music well here.


2 Chevaux-de-frise 

[Here are some notes from the booklet written by Kevin Volans:]
Chevaux-de-frise were barriers of metal spikes put up as a defence against cavalry charges in the seventeenth century. This piece, written in 1988 to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of the Armada, is more aggressive than defensive. It strides on centre-field like some fearsome war machine with a menacing air that pervades the whole work. The piece was commissioned by the BBC for the Ulster Orchestra to play at the 1988 Proms, where it was greeted by some with cries of “Rubbish!”


I do not agree with that reaction; those people shouting Rubbish probably wanted to hear Land of Hope and Glory! I think that Chevaux-de-frise is a powerful and interesting piece. Yes it contains strident and dissonant harmonies throughout the work. However, those harmonies, for me, create an exciting, inventive, dramatic and turbulent sound world. Yes, it is an assertive work; menacing and aggressive. That is its purpose and it is unrelenting. There is also great energy and drive in the work and Houlihan drives it well; he does not overdo it and does not let the work descend into total chaos. It is a work that I certainly would like to hear live.


3. Flamboys
 
I enjoy the textures in the music, particularly that of the brass. The musical language and the scoring are both harsh and stark. I like the tension, drama, excitement and forward momentum of the work.


4. Sur Les Pointes

We have met this work before in a solo piano version. This version is a shorter version [approximately half of the original time] and it is presented as a transcription for a wind band. I have the same issue with this version that I had with the original version in that the preamble/exposition is just too long. I wish that Barry might have reduced it somewhat here but he obviously felt that it was an important passage to be heard. It is basically a work, to my ear, built around a sequence of staccato chords and the problem is, for me, that there is no tonal or colour variety in the music.


5. Hard D

This work is essentially based on a series of Irish ballads. Yes, it is very dissonant but is a vibrant work and it has very interesting and colourful instrumental tones throughout the work.


6 Diner

Diner is a short but full on work for orchestra. I like the textures and the music is well driven.



All tracks can be heard here on this YT video:


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/KYNqR_jVXJs&amp;list=OLAK5uy_nJwwr7sM_4PVPIOHpLALgD6ulNiwz69os" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/KYNqR_jVXJs&amp;list=OLAK5uy_nJwwr7sM_4PVPIOHpLALgD6ulNiwz69os</a>



It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline not edward

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2022, 01:36:41 PM »
Gerald Barry: Orchestral Works [Houlihan]




This was my first introduction to Barry's music, and I think it's still a good one, despite its age.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2022, 01:12:16 AM »
This was my first introduction to Barry's music, and I think it's still a good one, despite its age.

Cheers. I assume that you have explored Barry's chamber music?
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2022, 06:56:34 AM »
Barry: Things That Gain





Things That Gain [Volans]: This is a short but interesting work for solo piano. It has two distinct and contrasting sections. The first section is assertive and aggressive in nature. The second section is calm and contemplative and is mellow toned.

String Quartet No. 1 [Xenia Ensemble]: This is an interesting, relatively short and crisp approach to the string quartet genre.  There is a considerable amount of the music played in the very upper registers of the instruments. This makes for unsettling and uneasy listening. Barry is undoubtedly pushing the boundaries of the genre with his sparse musical language and sonic palette; there is nothing inherently wrong with that.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/2icq86nCIbA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/2icq86nCIbA</a>



∅ For Two Pianos [Barry/Volans]: This is an interesting work and it also has an interesting structure/form. There is a wide range in the sonic dynamic of this work. An interesting compositional tool which Barry uses in this work is silence.

Water Parted [Clapton/Edwards]: This is a piece for counter-tenor and piano taken from Barry's opera The Intelligence Park. I originally found the extracts interesting enough at the time to eventually purchase the opera at a later stage.

Five Chorales [Barry/Volans]: This set of Chorales for two pianos inhabits a wonderful sound world. I particularly like this music. I find it to be both challenging and enchanting. There is a wide variety of musical content, tones and dynamics present within these pieces which makes for interesting, absorbing and exciting listening.

Before The Road [Webster/Lamb/Ault/Medcalf]: This is a work for four Clarinets. The work has eleven short and contrasting movements or parts. It does not feel disjointed but rather quite organic. It is inventive, interesting and intriguing music.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/1566RWIhvqE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/1566RWIhvqE</a>    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/7lGWZNuCsm0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/7lGWZNuCsm0</a>



Piano Quartet No. 2 [Xenia Ensemble/Barry]: This work opens with a violent, riotous cacophony which is followed with a diametrically opposite passage in terms of dynamics with pizzicato strings interspersed with a burst from the piano voice. This passage is, in turn, followed by strident strings in the highest register somewhat akin to fingering wet glasses. There then follows a passage of turmoil and dissonance on the strings and piano which, in turn, is followed by an organised and structured rhythmic pattern. The piano then enters with its own statement and a period of questions and answers between the piano and strings ensues. This leads to a tension filled conversation between the two forces which ultimately leads to a quarrel which concludes in a definitive statement from the piano. This work is typical Barry in that barriers are constantly being pushed and extremes always sought out, extended and exceeded with musical chaos sometimes pervading. This is a most interesting work.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/qozUltQsR7U" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/qozUltQsR7U</a>

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Gerald Barry (b. 1952)
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2022, 12:23:12 AM »
Barry: The Intelligence Park [Houlihan]






This, Barry’s first opera, is set in Dublin in 1753. The plot is Baroque based and centres on a love triangle. The main character plans to write an “opera seria”. He has a “bird-brained” fiancée who is basically his future source of a secure income. However, it comes to pass that this main character falls in love with the castrato for his opera. The irony is that this castrato ends up eloping with the fiancée! And so it goes! All of this, in itself, is indeed a very suitable subject for an opera-seria.

The subject matter of the work may be Baroque based but the music certainly is not, in any way whatsoever. The music is not scored for a conventional full scale orchestra but rather for a chamber orchestra. It is recorded here with the Almeida Ensemble comprising one per part, unless specified otherwise [2], of the following instruments: flute/piccolo, oboe/cor anglais, clarinet [2], bassoon/contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin [2], viola, cello, double bass, piano, marimba/glockenspiel. The overall sense of the texture of the scoring is that of the wind section. It is texturally rich and inventive in content and very sympathetic to the vocal content.

The scoring for the vocal lines can be quite difficult for me sometimes, particularly for [what I refer to as] the shrieking soprano. However, this element aside, the vocal lines do blend very well. There is a lot of staccato in the vocal scoring. This adds to the tension but it can be jarring on the ear.

This is a major work by Barry. It is not a work for the musical faint of heart. It is inherently unconventional but it is always challenging, interesting and exciting. Yes, this work can sometimes sound like a riotous cacophony but the sheer, relentless, electric energy and drama constantly drives one along. The musical language is terse and the musical accompaniment is wonderful in both its ingenuity and effectiveness. He states that he responded to the libretto by Vincent Deane. To quote Barry in the liner notes “As to what the Intelligence Park is about I have no fixed ideas”.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.