09 June 2016, 21:00
Strelka. Address: Bersenevskaya Embankment 14 bldg.5
Dusseldorf is the birthplace of Kraftwerk. It’s the location of the mysterious sound factory Kling Klang Studio, where the fathers of pop-electronica nourished their revolutionary ideas and recorded famous albums. The Grandbrothers duo also hails from Dusseldorf. Two young German musicians Erol Sarp and Lukas Vogel are worthy students of Kraftwerk’s founders who envisioned themselves as engineers of music, even though real engineers they were not. Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to use drum machines and synthesisers on stage, and they explored the unknown territory of electronic sounds. The Grandbrothers came of age, when the potential of musical electronics was already explored to the fullest, and so they went back to Kraftwerk’s point of departure, the concert grand piano.
The Grandbrothers came up with a beautiful and ingenious idea — they took the favourite instrument of Chopin, Liszt and Rakhmaninov to the lab, and, having fitted almost all of its parts with microphones or acoustic pick-ups, extracted from it the maximum number of unconventional sounds that a grand piano can possibly produce. In order to do that, they had to design and put together several original electromechanical devices. After carefully recording and converting all of the sounds, Erol and Lukas filed them into different folders and began to use the resulting audio parts for their own compositions, which inherited the exquisiteness and elegance of Kraftwerk design concepts. These compositions are always based on a catchy melody played on a grand piano in regular style, but the rhythm section, percussion, and all other sounds, implanted by the Grandbrothers into the musical fabric, are also “played” on a grand piano, even though it’s rarely noticeable. Erol and Lukas proudly claim that their music is 100% grand piano: “There are no artificial synthesisers and drum machines involved!”
The Grandbrothers’ music can be categorised as acoustic techno — the duo’s compositions find their way into remixes and DJ sets of progressive DJs such as Greg Wilson and Optimo DJs. The duo’s skilful pieces always have a clear rhythm that makes one want to dance. At their concerts, the Grandbrothers are prone to some appropriate improvisations, and constantly come up with new ideas for their live performances, striving to keep the audience on its toes.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that we are the fortunate contemporaries of the great Russian composer Vladimir Martynov, whose very existence disproves his very own philosophical thesis, which states that the age of the composers has passed.
Combination of a truly iconic status and such peculiar mindset only at the first glance seems like a contradiction. Vladimir Martynov separates the composer’s persona from the phenomenon of music itself, and speaks of the music’s return to the “prenatal,” archaic state, which is still perceptible in the non-European music practices, where the forces that come to play are greater than a single composer with a penchant for a single style or school. The music is a spontaneous force of sound that lasts in time; it’s an experience that cannot be recorded and measured, but Martynov does not preach inspired barbarism: every one of his works is a deliberate structural project.
Claiming that it fell to us to live in the twilight years of the composers’ age, Vladimir Martynov writes music that seems to be aware of being condemned: he is serenely completing the chronicles inside the church consumed by fire. Disavowing classical music, he behaves like the “last of the mohicans” whose portraits hang on the walls of the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory. Listening to any of his works, you can feel both the presence of a prominent connoisseur of early music and of a peculiar romantic. He has written a vast collection of exceptionally high quality movie sountracks, but he refuses to include them in his legacy. His biography even includes an episode of composer monkhood, which began in the 1970s: Martynov stopped writing music, engaging instead in the study and restoration of the old Russian liturgical pieces, and considered taking the gown. Incidentally, despite its unmistakably recognizable Russian roots, Vladimir Martynov’s music is acclaimed and sought-out in the West: the composer’s works are performed often, and such classical music stars as Kronos Quartet commission him to write specifically for them.
Vladimir Martynov’s music is truly innovative — not in the language that it’s using, but in its very nature. The composer, who celebrated his 70th anniversary this year, is not embarrassed by its extreme clarity and emotional “master cover,” even though he claims that he doesn’t want to work for the conservatory public, preferring the audience of avant-garde musicians such as Auktsion band. Listening to Vladimir Martynov, you realize that the truly new things in music lie far beyond the confines of avant-garde jungle games. Martynov’s seductively approachable compositions seamlessly penetrate the “control booth” of our perception, and, working on the deeply subconscious levels, imperceptibly change our internal settings.
As part of the SOUND UP concert series, Strelka Institute will host the performance of the special “Selected Works” program that was personally designed by the composer. Vladimir Martynov’s compositions will be performed by the best Russian interpreters of his music: Opus Posth chamber ensemble led by Tatyana Grindenko, and the composer himself.