Synthèse 2007

azguime The 2007 Bourges festival opened, as had the 2006 one, with a theatrical piece, this time a new opera by Portugese composer Miguel Azguime, Itinerário do Sal, an endlessly inventive, endlessly entertaining one-man multimedia show. Live and pre-recorded video, live and pre-recorded music collided and coincided alternately and simultaneously, dominated by the masterful performance of Azguime himself.

It was just as the saying has it, a tough act to follow—and it’s a tribute both to the confidence of the festival’s organizers and to the quality of the music that filled the next nine days (and that evening’s next couple of hours) that this spectacular show was chosen to open the festival. Sure it overshadowed everything, but the everything was pretty good and pretty memorable nonetheless.

Some of the highlights of the festival were a new piece by Beatriz Ferreyra, whose 70th anniversaire was celebrated with an all Ferreyra concert and a new piece by Jon Christopher Nelson. Both exceeded my expectations, which were unreasonably high. So that was something to set against the outrageous Salt Itinerary. Besides, having an entire concert of works by Ferreyra? There may be many things as good as that. Not likely to be much that’s better, though. Plus, there was at long last a preview of Francis Dhomont’s new cycle, Le Cri du Choucas, work on which has been held up by difficulties getting permission to use translations of Kafka’s work in the piece. If Premières traces du Choucas is a representative sampling of the entire cycle, this is a piece to look forward to.

Also, as usual, there were many very fine performances of music by younger composers, including Diana Simpson, whose music I first heard at this festival, and Matthias Ockert, whom I’d met in 2006. If Matthias and Diana do not continue to make a big noise (both senses) in the new music world, then expect to see a used, slightly chipped crystal ball for sale on eBay some day.

I see from glancing through my programs for both 2006 and 2007 that a composer I thought I had first heard of when I bought a Stradivarius CD of Elements a couple of months ago was represented both of those years of the Synthèse festival, and I see from the notes I took that I enjoyed Nicola Sani’s pieces very much, both years. I hope that that gives the impression that the festival is huge and overwhelming—and not simply that I have a poor memory.

Follows some clips from the festival and a couple of websites where you can hear samples of some other things for which I have no clips.

Beatriz Ferreyra, L’autre rive

Jon Christopher Nelson, objet sonore/ objet cinétique

Adam Stansbie, Isthmus

Diana Simpson, Kalimba

Miguel Azguime, Itinerário do Sal

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