With 48 Hours the Vonnegut Collective shows a new look into and brings the experience of a rehearsal of contemporary music. They perform a new composition by Tullis Rennie, and Thomas Adès his Piano Quitent.
48 Hours is released on CD recorded and produced by Mark Knoop and mastered by Stephen Rinker, and comes in beautiful artwork by Rutger Zuydervelt basd upon the score for 48 Hours.
When a twenty-minute piece takes two weeks to rehearse is an audience robbed of some of the richness of their experience by not witnessing that creative journey? For 48 Hours, Vonnegut Collective worked collaboratively with composer Tullis Rennie. Together they documented the trajectory of the rehearsal process and the motivations of the performers as the group tackled their most challenging work to date – Thomas Adès’s Piano Quintet.
Recordings from rehearsals and interviews with players are woven through improvised interpretations of a new graphic score for the quintet, combined with trumpet and electronics. In 48 Hours, Rennie and the Vonnegut Collective play with perspective, observation and interpersonal experience, providing the listener with a unique insight into contemporary music making.
Vital Weekly – Dolf Mulder
A third release in the MFR Contemporary Series of Moving Furniture. After releases by Alvin Curran and Renier van Houdt and one by Elliott Sharp, the label now presents the debut album by the Vonnegut Collective performing ’48 Hours’ by Tullis Rennie and ‘Piano Quintet’ by Thomas Adès.
The Vonnegut Collctive is a collective from Manchester, specialized in performing modern composed music, formed in 2015 by two members of the BBC Philharmonic Ensemble.
Thomas Adès is one of the most important modern composers coming from the UK. He studied piano and composition. He composed several operas, ‘Powder Face’, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘The Exterminating Angel’ that received good reviews. Like his orchestral work ‘Asyla’. He collaborated with the Dutch Concertgebouw-Orkest that performs his compositions since 1995. Now we are talking of a composition of chamber music. ‘Piano Quintet’ was written in 2001 and premiered by Arditti Quartet and Adès himself on piano. It is an intriguing work with many compelling moments.
It turns out to be in the good hands by the Vonnegut Collective as this recording makes clear. After a short frivolous opening by violin, the music soon transforms into something else. In a way, the music is accessible, built from melodic material that is rooted in the classic tradition. Nevertheless, the way Ades treats this material makes it a strange affair. It is not easy to find a grip on what is happening here. And that makes this a fascinating work. It is as if the music continuously shifts and moves, generating imaginative contrasts. It is a very dynamic and powerful work, performed with verve and intensity by the ensemble.
For sure a composition with a very own identity.
The rehearsals for the ‘Piano Quintet’ took 48 hours. The composition ’48 Hours’ by Tellis refers very specifically to these same 48 hours: “48 Hours features excerpts of phrases, sounds and conversations recorded during the rehearsal period for the Adès Piano Quintet, interwoven with improvised interpretations of a new graphic score for the quintet, combined with trumpet and electronics to create a unique sound-scape, part performance, part installation, a new and innovative piece.”
Tellis – a composer, improvising trombonist, electronic musician and field recordist – worked with Vonnegut Ensemble from the start. He is also involved in audio-visual projects, like his work with visual artist Laurie Nouchka and his participation in the Barcelona-based collective Insectotròpics.’48 Hours’ is his latest of several projects he realized with the Vonnegut Collective. He was commissioned by the ensemble to compose a work that reflects the rehearsing process, the struggle for making a composition come to life. An unusual perspective and starting point for creating new work.
Whereas ‘Piano Quintet’ is an undivided 22-minute composition, ’48 Hours’ is compiled from eight sections and composed along very different lines. Flashes of conversation by the performers pass by, which has them reflecting on the rehearsal process. We hear parts are from the original composition, other parts however differ from ‘Piano Quintet’ like the drone-like sections in ‘Harmonics III’. Several parts have a trumpet delivering improvised comments and additions. The Vonnegut Collective makes an impressive first statement especially in their performance of ‘Piano Quintet’ in an original combination with ’48 Hours’. (DM)
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Vonnegut Collective is a multifaceted ensemble, making new music and telling stories through creative collaborations with artists from a broad range of genres in the concert hall and the community.
Formed in 2014 by two members of the BBC Philharmonic, we aim to explore and create new music in a way that is relevant to all. Our carefully crafted recitals and community work facilitate creative music-making, storytelling and free expression through structured and improvised sound, giving everyone the chance to experience new music, their music, either made by them or for them.
Tullis Rennie is a composer, improvising trombonist, electronic musician and field recordist.
“…Rennie foregrounds the act of listening as an active component in the creation of musical experience” – The Wire Magazine
His work has been presented at concerts and festivals across 20 countries worldwide, alongside UK national broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and ResonanceFM.
He is co-founder of Walls On Walls with visual artist Laurie Nouchka, and a member of the Insectotròpics audio-visual collective, based in Barcelona. He curates the multi.modal label with Claudia Molitor.
His writing has been published in Organised Sound and Leonardo Music Journal. He features on releases by the Luminous label, ZeroWave and Efpi Records.
He is currently Senior Lecturer in Music at City, University of London. He completed a PhD in Composition at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.
Thomas Adès was born in London in 1971. Renowned as both composer and performer, he works regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies and festivals.
His compositions include three operas : the most recent of which The Exterminating Angel premiered at the 2016 Salzburg Festival and subsequently has been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and the Royal Opera House, London all conducted by the composer; The Tempest (Royal Opera House and Metropolitan Opera); and Powder Her Face. His orchestral works include Asyla (CBSO, 1997), Tevot (Berlin Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, 2007), Polaris (New World Symphony, Miami 2011), Violin Concerto Concentric Paths (Berliner Festspiele and the BBC Proms, 2005), In Seven Days (Piano concerto with moving image – LA Philharmonic and RFH London 2008), Totentanz for mezzo-soprano, baritone, and orchestra (BBC Proms, 2013), and Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Boston Symphony Orchestra, 2019). His compositions also include numerous celebrated chamber and solo works.
Thomas Adès has been an Artistic Partner of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 2016 and will conduct the orchestra in Boston and at Tanglewood, perform chamber music with the orchestra players, and lead the summer Festival of Contemporary Music. He coaches Piano and Chamber Music annually at the International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove.
As a conductor, Thomas appears regularly with the Los Angeles, San Francisco and London Philharmonic orchestras, the Boston, London, BBC and City of Birmingham, Symphony orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouworkest, Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Czech Philharmonic. In opera, in addition to The Exterminating Angel, he has conducted The Rake’s Progress at the Royal Opera House and the Zürich Opera, The Tempest at the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera, and Gerald Barry’s latest opera Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in Los Angeles (world premiere) and in London (European premiere). In the 2019-20 season Thomas has a residency with the Royal Concertgebouworkest and also conducts the London and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and makes his debut with Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the USA, he returns to the Los Angeles and Boston Symphony Orchestras. Thomas also returns to the Royal Opera House twice this season, to conduct Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and the premiere of his new ballet The Dante Project.
His piano engagements include solo recitals at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium), New York and the Wigmore Hall in London, and concerto appearances with the New York Philharmonic. This season will see the release of his album of solo piano music by Janacek and he will also join Simon Keenlyside in a recital of Schubert’s Winterreise at the Vienna State Opera.
His many awards include the Grawemeyer Award for Asyla (1999); Royal Philharmonic Society large-scale composition awards for Asyla, The Tempest and Tevot; and Ernst von Siemens Composers’ prize for Arcadiana; British Composer Award for The Four Quarters. His CD recording of The Tempest from the Royal Opera House (EMI) won the Contemporary category of the 2010 Gramophone Awards; his DVD of the production from the Metropolitan Opera was awarded the Diapason d’Or de l’année (2013), Best Opera recording (2014 Grammy Awards) and Music DVD Recording of the Year (2014 ECHO Klassik Awards); and The Exterminating Angel won the World Premiere of the Year at the International Opera Awards (2017). In 2015 he was awarded the prestigious Léonie Sonning Music Prize and in Spring 2020 he will receive the Toru Takemitsu composition award at Tokyo Opera City where he will conduct a concert of his own music.