1918 and 1968. Two years, two different eras. Half a century apart, but linked by madness.
The madness of the First World War, leaving Europe as a blood soaked mud field. And the madness of the Vietnam War, turning tropical forests into blazing fires of napalm. Het Collectief performs chamber music from both years, from slightly unhinged to beautifully bonkers. From the time we were gaga for dada, to the year Dr. King got gunned down on a Memphis balcony. These two examples feature on the program of their concert on November 4.
Musique d’ameublement (1918)
No better example of the non-corformist, excentric, provocative composer than Erik Satie. He incorporated typewriters and a gun (!) among his instruments, and favoured surreal titles like Trois pièces en forme de poire (Three pieces in the form of a pear) and Embryons dessechés (Dried Embryos).
His Musique d’ameublement was written for the interval between acts of a play, and the audience was invited to completely ignore it. It’s repetitiveness only emphasized it’s fading presence, like music receding into the wallpaper, muzak avant la lettre.
Peter Maxwell Davies
Pavan No. 2 after Purcell (1968)
British composer Peter Maxwell Davies was quite partial to a bit of madness. He shocked and delighted the world in 1969 with his Eight Songs for a Mad King.
But before that he took on the music of his baroque predecessor Henry Purcell and twists it into a sarcastic foxtrot, with jazzy percussion taking centre stage. It’s great fun and slightly destabilizing at the same time.