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Composer: Nancarrow, Conlon (1912-1997)

Fact file
Year of birth1912
Year of death1997
NationalityUnited States
Period20th century
November 2018
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Evening performance
Matinee performance
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LondonHarrison’s Clocks – Alasdair Beatson

© Giorgia Bertazzi
Beethoven, Birtwistle, Ligeti, Kurtág, Messiaen, Schumann, Fauré, Bartók, Ravel, Nancarrow
Alasdair Beatson, Piano

BerlinArditti Quartet

Crawford Seeger, Webern, Feldman, Nancarrow, Birtwistle
Arditti String Quartet
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Prom 25: The Aurora Orchestra do Zappa, Nancarrow and Glass

Prom 25 (c) Chris Christodoulou
It would probably be a mistake to take Frank Zappa’s The Adventures of Greggery Peccary too seriously. True, musically it is highly taxing in its orchestral transcription by Ali N. Askin, and there’s absolutely no denying the seriousness of Zappa as a musician generally. But this is Zappa in full-on nonsense mode.Greggery Peccary is a pig of some sort, who works in an office, or something.
***11
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The Arditti Quartet play Nancarrow and Ligeti

Arditti Quartet
Conlon Nancarrow may be most famous for his player piano studies, all of which were performed at the Southbank Centre last weekend, but his instrumental music is worth a listen too. His Third String Quartet is perhaps his most important effort for 'actual' performers rather than machines, but on Sunday night the Arditti Quartet also made a decent case for the First Quartet.
****1
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London Sinfonietta Perform Conlon Nancarrow

Baldur Brönnimann  ©  Felix Broede
Having missed a chance to hear Conlon Nancarrow’s Player Piano Study no. 21 (Canon X) due to a spontaneous programme switch earlier in the day, I was delighted that Dominic Murcott’s arrangement of the piece for London Sinfonietta and player piano opened this concert.
****1
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Impossible Brilliance: An Ambitious Celebration of Conlon Nancarrow

Conlon Nancarrow  ©  Schott Music / Peter Andersen
This weekend saw the Southbank Centre embark on an ambitious festival programme of rarely performed composer Conlon Nancarrow. One of the main reasons Nancarrow’s music is rarely performed is that the vast majority of what he wrote was for the archaic player piano.
****1
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Musical Modernism with Ursula Oppens and the JACK Quartet

Ursula Oppens,  ©  Christian Steiner
Good news for skeptics: modernist music can be beautiful. If what keeps listeners away from the “difficult” music written in the past century is a fear of dissonance, they can rest assured.
****1
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