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  Thomas Ades  Team Gaughan at 12:29 on 01 February 2007

I just wondered what other people made of Thomas Ades' music?

  Re: Thomas Ades  red5 at 12:35 on 01 February 2007

Love it, well, most of it. It's starting to sound a bit cliched now (his recent violin concerto sounded a bit churned out to me) but the early stuff is fantastic, I particularly like the Origin of Harp, well worth a listen.

  Re: Thomas Ades  John Robertson at 13:26 on 01 February 2007

I prefer the early stuff too. I think the first act of powder her face is very close to a masterpiece - it takes on Berg and Ligeti and matches them at their own game - quite an achievement. That said, one does have to question what the piece as a whole is trying to say - it paints a woman who was style over substance and it's not clear where our sympathies are intended to lie.

I thought the tempest was just a wierd attempt to write a 'grown-up'/'emotionally rich' opera after that. It sounded like it was written by a 70-year old, it seemed to lack sincerity. Powder her face was paradoxically sincere in its portrayal of insincerity!

I would love to know more about Ades's working methods, he's incredibly reticent, and his technique as a composer, whatever you think of the end product is beyond question.

  Re: Thomas Ades  Team Gaughan at 13:41 on 01 February 2007

I agree. I like his early stuff- the Eliot Landscapes (soprano & piano) op1 are wonderful as are the Chamber Symphony and Living Toys. I'm afraid Powder her Face just left me cold, it seemed like an out of date Rosenkavalier.

I rather like the orchestration of Asyla but am not convinced by the piece as a whole. Same with the Violin Concerto.

  Re: Thomas Ades  at385 at 10:03 on 02 February 2007

I actually enjoyed some of the Tempest, I saw it at the Opera House and, to give it a fair try, will be seeing it again in March. I agree that some of it was rather empty, the second act reminded me of bad Verdi, but it had its moments.

I particularly like 'Darknesse Visible'. A very fine piece and a very fine performance by the composer himself on the EMI release.

  Re: Thomas Ades  Team Gaughan at 12:53 on 02 February 2007

Yes 'Darknesse Visible' is excellent, and deeply impressive.

  Re: Thomas Ades  R9 at 10:25 on 05 February 2007

I think its worth remembering the number of commissions flung at the poor guy - its no wonder some of his works seem rushed - i do believe that he is incredibly important for raising the profile of contemporary music and bringing it to a much larger audience, some of who may then go on and explore further...

richard bullen, composer

  Re: Thomas Ades  ruska02 at 12:48 on 08 February 2007

May be because I am Italian, may be because I simply think contemporary music needs something more than "Interesting " pieces, may be I try to find musicians of presence but I am a little bit astonished of how much talking there is about such a mediocre composer as Ades here in UK. Also most of the ensembles are proud of playing his music not considering he sometimes is only a patchwork of cliches directed towards seducing the english audience.
There are many ot,her composer less know here in the White Albion that deserve attention and consideration also young ones, like Widmann and Pintscher, older like Guarnieri e Sciarrino , Furrer and Hollinger. Not to mention that sometimes this "new important composers" as Ades are completly anware of some basic tradition of the classical composition as counterpoint and poliphony and seem to pay more attention to the work of the make up artist that to the one of Nono. I think there is no need for a composer to talk about his composing skill and methods, its all in his music...sometime there is nothing ....
by the way also Ades the performer could do something better than rediscovering Nancarrow for example...Don't you think there is so much good music to play and discover than the one of Nancarrow ?.

Roberto Rusconi Composer

  Re: Thomas Ades  red5 at 13:45 on 08 February 2007

I think mediocre is harsh. Maybe his music isn't all engaging but I think mediocre is too strong a word. Also, have you listened to his 'Sonata de Caccia' (I think that's its name), there's a huge amount of counterpoint and/or polyphony in that (and that's just one example). In fact I think Ades is sometimes too involved in tradition. This said an excellent piece of his is the movement from his string quartet which is effectively Elgar's 'Nimrod'.

Considering the lack of strong English composers since Purcell (barring Elgar and Britten and some of the current, living, crop) I think Ades should be celebrated. From your post on Menotti and your list of composers you obviously have a strong affinity to Italian composer, granted it's a strong tradition of fine composers, why not let the English celebrate one of theirs?

  Re: Thomas Ades  zebedeeb at 10:00 on 12 February 2007

Hurrah for celebrating British composers! For me, Judith Weir is one of the most important people working in the music industry at the moment, and deserves far more recognition than she currently gets. Up the Brits! I know there's a huge divide at the moment between British and Continental European art music, but surely this should be celebrated. Britain has an incredibly rich streak of new music at the moment, and in my humble opinion one that integrates with other music and culture far more effectively than on the continent.

I may not be Ades' greatest fan, but at least he's not blinkered to contemporary music's relatively narrow appeal, or unable to allow wider influences into his work. Having said that, I would far rather put on a CD of Judith's chamber music than listen to Arcadiana. No other composer I know of can provide such deep insights into life whilst remaining so economical and pure of sound.

  Re: Thomas Ades  ruska02 at 10:22 on 12 February 2007

I am really sorry to see there is still someone around wanting to divide the Island from the Continent.
Anyway apart from those who feel like coming back to pre-Roman times I think the most important point, and lets stick at the subject of the forum which is Ades Music, is that Ades has undoubtely more succes than he deserves. This is a problem because there are so many young and less young composers thant should be performed and proposed to wider audiences not only to let the common taste develop and grow but also to permit to other composers and performers to share sights and beliefs.
There is a guy in Italy , his name is Fabio Vacchi who is just like Ades, may be some of you know him. He has and is working a lot at the moment, just to make things clear they call him neo romantic ...he talks a lot about timbric evolutions and colours and so on...the result is that all the other musicians of bigger value are not performed in his place and all the audience keep on saying how beautiful is this that recalls Deboussy or Elgar or but...Where is the real authentic music ?
I think this point is important because composers, performers and music historics should help the "common taste" evolution otherwise we will end up plenty of Glass. Theofandinis, Part or even worst.
Copying renaissance melodies or Palestrina Vocal stile is not a omicide but is really killing all the young talented cartists that authentically try to say something in line and evolution with the notes of the past form Gesualdo to Bach , from Brahms to Berio or whatever. Ades is just dancing in the middle o fthe edge , he should make a choice or towards music or towards business and fame...most of the times, unluckly they do not match...and th emor efamous you become the more responsabilities you have.

Roberto Rusconi Composer

  Re: Thomas Ades  zebedeeb at 10:40 on 12 February 2007

It is certainly not my intention to 'divide the Island from the Continent'. But a discernible difference between contemporary output here (UK) and elsewhere in Europe is undeniable, and I certainly don't think this is a negative thing, or without historical precedent (geographical variation is surely one of the most important factors in shaping all music - without it, we might not be able to enjoy the delights of Italian Renaissance, French Impressionism, English Song, Motown, Bristol Trip-Hop...). It's this interaction, this ability to creatively work off the successes of others in one's vicinity that drives musical identity forward.

Not to say that British composers shouldn't, and aren't, travelling to Europe and studying with the biggest names in European composing. And many of them enjoying as much success and recognition over there as is true the other way around. The British music scene has plenty of new European music. Giorgio Battistelli is coming to Aldeburgh, that bastion of Englishness, to be the Artistic Director of their new Opera Writing Programme this year. But a little national pride is not a bad thing!

  Re: Thomas Ades  red5 at 19:04 on 12 February 2007

But I think that Ades uses lots of music from yester-year with a similar aim to Berio in the second movement of Sinfonia (granted in a totally different technical sphere). It's something which I think he learnt from Robin Holloway (his second concerto for orchestra for example - incidentally the interview with Holloway on this site talks about this concerto).

I agree that Ades receives an overly high number of performances (much like Turnage - who I used to rate but am not so sure now) but I think it would be better to give other composers more rather than him less. That way we would all benefit from greater interest in our craft.

Zebedeeb - I think Takemitsu does what you say Judith Weir does.

  Re: Thomas Ades  zebedeeb at 11:35 on 13 February 2007

I absolutely agree, and Takemitsu is certainly one of my favourite composers! One that I feel has a lot in common with Judith Weir, and many others... I certainly feel inspired and influenced by both. Surely that is what we are talking about - if a composer's music has that effect on you, I don't think it's really worth getting into a deep analysis of its artistic merits, because it can never be explained WHY certain people love certain music. Some will adore Ades' use of ancient music, others will loathe traditional Scottish music appearing in certain chamber pieces by Weir. And vice versa! Who cares? As long as music is doing its job - i.e. speaking to or inspiring a good porportion of its audience - I think it works. Maybe it's all about your own conditioning - i.e. what will make you fall in love with certain music. For me, the very discernible line Debussy-Stravisnky-Messiaen-Takemitsu-Weir (and the obvious 'tributaries'...) is where a lot of my C20th/21st musical passion lies. Of course it deviates wildly (into Finzi, for example) and steers clear of many (i.e. Berio) but surely every piece should be judged on its own merits.

Maybe that's a new topic - what pieces have surprised people that they like - something by a composer they otherwise wouldn't include in their top 50?! For me it's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the recent ENO commission from Gerald Barry.