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  interesting george benjamin review  isj at 17:27 on 30 July 2007
 

I came across this review of George Benjamin's Opera http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/arts/ny-etopera0729,0,7393087.story?coll=ny-arts-headlines

It came as something of a surprise to read something about GB with a critical tone, he tends to get nothing but gushing praise here in the UK. Does each country look after their own or something?

  Re: interesting george benjamin review  at385 at 10:28 on 31 July 2007
 

It's rather an odd review I think, a strange mix of praise and, in my opinion, unjustified criticism. To say Benjamin is not afraid of dissonance is a little naive, most of Benjmin's writing (at least in the linear sense) revolves around consonant intervals. That aside, it's interesting how composers are perceived in other countries. Many of the UK's best composers are more performed or made there name abroad. For example Jonathan Harvey, who has been widely performed, praised and commissioned on the continent, is only now receiving recognition at home. The same could be said of Benjamin, Turnage or Knussen. I think America's a different kettle of fish though, the musical landscape (and this is totally my personal opinion) is vastly different to that of Europe which is why I think composers like George Benjamin will never be truly appreciated by your average concert attendee in America.

  Re: interesting george benjamin review  scott_good at 01:37 on 03 August 2007
 

hello at385 ,

(did your mother or your father give you this name? ;-)

sorry to step on a countryman, but, from what i have heard of george benjamin's music, i mostly agree with the statements of the critic.

first off, it is clear that he has excellent "technique". and there are moments of truly inspired orchestration. but, i often feel lost in his music. there seems to be an overwhelming desire for "complexity always". the music feels laborious.

since, as you said, his linear movement works in consonant shapes and intervals, it seems he feels the need to "modernize" the sound with some really crunchy harmony. don't get me wrong, i like dissonance in music for sure. i get cranky if there are too many triads in my life. but, dissonance must be handled with care, and it should try to relate to the musical whole.

take for example, webern. in terms of tradition concepts of dissonance, you can't go much further without the use of micro tones or clusters. yet, there is beauty in the way that each dissonance is prepared and left in both linear and horizontal implications. his orchestration pallet is clean and efficient. also, and most importantly, the rhythm, harmony, melody, and form work cohesively.

to my ear, benjamin's music does not effectively combine these elements - their relationships seem confused. perhaps if i were to listen to it more, i would become accustomed to his syntax. tell me what i should listen to and i will give him another chance...

or maybe i'm just another north american who wont get it.

  Re: interesting george benjamin review  at385 at 16:43 on 03 August 2007
 

I was raised by cyber-robots in the year 3010, I am hear to convert the world to Georgre Benjamin!

Errr, anyway! I can see that he's not everyone's cup of tea but I would recomend listening to At First Light and A Mind of Winter, both excellent pieces I think....

  Re: interesting george benjamin review  scott_good at 02:17 on 06 August 2007
 

"I was raised by cyber-robots in the year 3010, I am hear to convert the world to Georgre Benjamin!"

Yikes, does this mean you are going to have to send a naked Arnold S. around to wipe out all the other composers? Or, is this more of a "bill and ted's" kind of gig that George Carlin had?

Party on, dude!

"Errr, anyway! I can see that he's not everyone's cup of tea but I would recomend listening to At First Light and A Mind of Winter, both excellent pieces I think...."

I'll check it out, haven't heard those works. Perhaps if I spend some more time with the music, I'll "get it" and also save myself from imminent termination.

And so you know, there are lot's of folks in this neck of the woods that dig his tunes.

It takes all kinds.

And, , ummm, well..., I must confess that I did enjoy "Upon Silence" - not the greatest piece of music ever, but, quite sensual. Still for me a bit "notey", yet evocative.