Record of the Day: Michael Nyman, "Nyman/Greenaway Revisited"

Record of the Day: Michael Nyman, “Nyman/Greenaway Revisited”

Michael Nyman
Nyman/Greenaway Revisited (Cd Mn Records 106)

The collaboration between director Peter Greenaway and composer Michael Nyman is undoubtedly one of the most important and stimulating in the entire history of cinema, comparable to that between Eisenstein and Prokofiev or between Hitchcock and Herrmann.

The vision of a contemporary aesthetic in which stylized elements of the past are exhibited in a distorted manner through an exasperated formalism that emphasizes their artificial character is an intellectual operation common to both artists.
If Greenaway revisits the great pictorial tradition of the Flemish and nineteenth-century romanticism by alluding to Vermeer and Delacroix, superimposing computerized signs, mathematical formulas and colors derived from Expressionism and Pop Art, Nyman does not hesitate to use entire passages quoted directly from Henry Purcell, John Bull and other great composers of the British tradition (the same ones who studied in depth with Thurston Dart in their youth), using its forms thoroughly (Aria, Double, Ground etc.) and finding singular correspondences between this style and American minimalism.

A scholar of Cage and influenced by the aesthetics of the Fluxus movement, Nyman immediately cultivated with enthusiasm the idea of ​​the Object trouvé, considering the entire History of Music as a gigantic warehouse of historicized relics to be used freely through editing operations and revisiting this idea in the light of postmodern aesthetics.
The way Nyman reconsiders these elements is always full of humor and intelligence; in this he is not far from another master of assemblage such as Kagel (whose acoustic results are however much less interesting on a second listen); only the critics of the Avant-garde linked to Darmstadt have deliberately avoided seeing what was obvious to anyone's eyes, namely that the use of tonal materials in Nyman has absolutely nothing nostalgic or reactionary but is the result of an experience that it drinks directly from the source of a strongly radical and alternative thought compared to the academic avant-gardes.

This recent CD contains new, excellent recordings of the most famous pages of the collaboration between Greenaway and Nyman, splendidly created by his Ensemble and honed to perfection through years of concert performances.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.