Music by Peter Hatch
Performed by The Canadian Chamber Ensemble, The Penderecki Quartet and Cynthia Hiebert, harpsichord. Catalogue: ART-028.
"Light and airy yet dark and desolate..... like a Goth summer frock" (Whole Note Magazine).
Included are the compositions Gathered Evidence performed by The Penderecki Quartet; Il Cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione performed by The Penderecki Quartet and Canadian Chamber Ensemble; Endangered Worlds performed by The Canadian Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Daniel Warren; In a Vernacular Way performed by Cynthia Hiebert, harpsichord; and What is a Country performed by The Canadian Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Daniel Warren.
We are an art with no name.
Or perhaps with too many names - new music, new art music, contemporary music, new classical music, postmodern music, contemporary concert music.... The incredible diversity of styles and genres exhibited by composers individually and collectively has, perhaps, no precedent in the past and is often only described with such nonspecific terms as 'pluralistic' and post-whatever. At the beginning of the 21st century we are an art in search of defining its own identity.
We live in an era when classical music is virtually synonymous with the idea of masterworks by composers long dead and with superstar performers or conductors. It is hard for us to imagine, but in Mozart's day the situation was quite the opposite - the public demanded to hear new works, and allowed only occasional 'token' old works to appear on programmes. Today, however, this situation is reversed - most living composers are invisible to the listening public. Whereas in Vivaldi's day a musical 'keener' may have heard the 'Four Seasons' concerti a maximum of two or three times in his/her lifetime, it is possible that many of us have heard at least part of this piece that many times in the last month alone. While this should make everyone an expert with this music (and in some ways does), the way we are exposed to it - in shopping malls, restaurants, doctor's offices, as part of television broadcasts and in movies - creates a very different relationship to these pieces than that experienced by audiences at the time they were written. These 'masterworks' have gone from being loved to being adored to being used, exploited, packaged and sold...... This numbing exposure has forced us to develop tools for tuning this music out in situations where our attention is needed elsewhere or we don't care to listen. Perhaps we have also become experts, then, in tuning this music out - in unlistening.
There is little place for anything new in this climate. New music requires open ears, an open attitude and and an engagement with music that is directly against the kind of packaged comfort that so much classical music represents today. Many years ago forward-looking composers and the public turned their backs on one another and have only begun to face each other again recently. Whether this is a new trend or an historical blip remains to be seen.
The music on this CD represents a collection of some of my musings over the past decade or so about our inherited tradition and its present day status. All of the pieces on this CD are based on previous musical works, and in this sense are 'remixes'. Take out: All composing is remixing in the end, though - we are always combining and blending ideas we have gathered to give them new voice. My intent in referencing previous musical materials was to try and get at what Gertrude Stein called their 'bottom nature' - their essence, not just as an abstract composition, but as works existing in the late 20th/early 21st century. From old master's revisited (Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Holst's The Planets and others) to humorous juxtapositions of newer and older styles and genres, questions about our art form - and about 'identity' in a broader sense - run like a thread throughout the disc. I do this sometimes with the utmost seriousness and sometimes with a strong sense of humour and irony. My interest is in not in quotation, but in the transformation and distilling of these works through present-tense filters.
Like Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf, we need to be able to hear and understand the essence of this music, to recognize its beauty amidst the din of today; to distill the underlying truths of it in present day culture, and to combine and compare various truths from various angles. To move ahead, we must reckon with the past.
But first, we must gather the evidence.....