SIMON H. FELL The Wire 2000 Rewind (pros & cons)
N.B.: this text was originally commissioned by The Wire for their January 2001 issue, but was inadvertently published in a completely different form. The original brief had a 150-word limit; of the 148 words I submitted, 99 were printed and another 163 inserted from an earlier, discarded version, without my knowledge. For the sake of completeness, the correct text is presented here....
OK readers, this year's rant is about the 'new' contemporary classical music; here goes...
cons: Preferring (a) provocative, challenging, difficult, abrasive works that might stimulate mental engagement to (b) undemanding pap, now seems to make me a 20th-century throwback; perhaps even a reactionary. It's alright for promoters & performers to replace post-war classical music with (bad) rock music, (bad) world music, (bad) dance music, because "of course nobody liked the other stuff anyway". Fiona Talkington telling me that these (European) percussionists playing substandard cod-African drumming and presenting it as contemporary composition is what makes 'today's music' so exciting, "so accessible". The breaking of the link between 'contemporary music' and the stimulating, challenging, confrontationally intellectual. It's a life's work being turned topsy-turvy.
pros: Those dedicated few who might still feel that enjoyment doesn't necessarily preclude aesthetic stringency and complexity. They are still out there.
© Simon H. Fell 2000
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