Laurence CRANE (b.
20th Century Music (1999) [2:48]
Three Preludes (1985) [7:09]
Blue Blue Blue (1986) [7:03]
Kierkegaards (Kierkegaard his Prelude; Kierkegaard his walk
around Copenhagen) (1986) [11:46]
Birthday Piece for Michael Finnissy (1996) [3:20]
Derridas (Jacques Derrida goes to a nightclub; Jacques Derrida
goes to a massage parlour; Jacques Derrida goes to the supermarket;
Jacques Derrida goes to the beach) (1985/1986) [16:02]
Gorm Busk (1991) [3:14]
James Duke son of John Duke (1989) [6:45]
Looking for Michael Bracewell (1989) [1:52]
Andrew Renton becomes an art critic (1989) [6:39]
Chorale for Howard Skempton (1997) [1:15]
Three Pieces for James Clapperton (1989) [12:15]
rec. 29 February 2004 and 31 March 2005, Turner Sims Concert
Hall, Southampton University. DDD METIER
I have had the
great pleasure of knowing Laurence Crane and his music for
twenty years and it has pleased me listening to each new
piece and enjoying the way that his music has blossomed,
his style has grown and matured and his language has ripened.
Underneath a façade of seeming simplicity lies music of great
beauty, emotion and originality, written with sincerity
in a language of timeless freshness. Crane is one of the
few composers who will never use two notes when one is more
a celebration of the chord, 20th Century Music is
a short meditation on the kind of subversive music Crane,
Skempton, Chris Newman, John White and many others have been
writing, surprising and delighting us with for the past thirty
years. Beauty is its point.
Preludes is harder music. The tunes are angular, but
not unnecessarily so, and there is true tragedy and grief
in the third Prelude which you wouldn’t expect from
the tone of the first two. This short work shows the full
range of Crane’s expression. Blue Blue Blue is typical
Crane – slowly progressing chords, coming from nowhere,
going nowhere, simply suspended in the air, speaking volumes
as we listen to the slow changes in the bass as the music
makes its inevitable way forwards. The two Kierkegaard
pieces are similar and yet totally different. Written for
a theatre production, these pieces, like Blue Blue Blue simply
hang in the air, going their own special way, never deviating
from the path the composer has stepped on at the start
of the piece.
Piece for Michael Finnissy we return to the utmost
simplicity of 20th Century Music – three
chords repeat and repeat. They hover, they repeat, they
The four Jacques
Derrida pieces derive from a theatre piece. Using his
repeated chord method, thus making us listen to all the
overtones and associated sounds connected to the music,
Crane takes us into a very special hypnotic world. Subtle,
seeming to be without ambition or goal, strange things
happen. The second piece has movement, but it is the last
piece which is most striking – Crane builds a fine climax
out of his material and there is a real feeling of deep
passion, which is disturbed several times by two dissonant
chords. Subversive? I’ll say it is!
Busk is the name of a Scandinavian musicologist Crane
discovered whilst working in the office of the New Grove.
He never met the man but loved his name hence this small
dedication. Crane did a similar thing in 1989. Whilst watching Going
for Gold – a lunchtime TV game show – he saw a contestant
named Jürgen Hip and was so taken with that name
that he immediately wrote a piece for cello and piano duet
using the man’s name. It’s a lovely piece and one we should
hear more often.
pieces dedicated to friends follow. There’s a depth of feeling
here, as befits tributes to friends, as can also be found
in the Chorale for Howard Skempton. The Three Pieces
for James Clapperton come as a shock. Clapperton is a
true virtuoso so here are three pieces testing his powers
of interpretation in music of tenderness and straightforwardness
without an hint of a showpiece.
Crane’s art is
too important and too beautiful to miss. This is a most important
issue, produced with marvelous, clear, sound, very sympathetic
performances, fine notes and a lovely reproduction of Liz
Arnold’s Mythic Heaven on the cover of the booklet.
Buy it and enjoy!
Founding Editor Rob Barnett Senior Editor
John Quinn Seen & Heard Editor Emeritus Bill Kenny Editor in Chief
Vacant MusicWeb Webmaster
David Barker MusicWeb Founder Len Mullenger
from previous months Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the
discs reviewed. details We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to
which you refer.