Wednesday 6 June 2018

Philosophical re-thinking: White Light from Hugo Ticciati & O/Modernt

White Light - O/Modernt - Signum Classics
White Light, Part, Vasks, Tavener, Lennon & McCartney; Hugo Ticciati, Matthew Barley, Soumik Datta, Sukhvinder Singh Pinky, O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra; Signum Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 06 June 2018 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
Hugo Ticciati's eclectic programme combines both Western and Indian musics into an thoughtful and seductive whole

White Light, on the Signum Classics label, is the first disc from violinist Hugo Ticciati and his O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra. They are joined by Soumik Datta (sarod), Gareth Lubbe (harmonic singer), Matthew Barley (cello), Sukhvinder Singh Pinky (tabla) for an eclectic programme which mixes Arvo Part's Silouan's Song and Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, Peteris Vasks ' Tala Gaisma, with improvisations and music by John Tavener, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

The structure of the disc, formal composed material linked by improvisations with juxtapositions of composers from strikingly different backgrounds and a combination of both Western and Indian classical musics, reflects the philosophy of Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt's programming [see my interview with Hugo].

Philosophy is important to Ticciati and part of the inspiration behind this programme is Ticciati's interest in meditative Indian philosophies. The title of the disc White Light comes from a quotation from Arvo Part 'I could compare my music to white light which contains all colours. Only a prism can divide the colours and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener'.

This reflects another part of Ticciati and O/Modernt's approach, the encouragement of active listening in the audience; the juxtaposition of diverse elements to make you think about them differently (such as a recent programme at Kings Place which mixed Vivaldi with arrangements of Metallica!).

So we start with Arvo Part's rather meditative and spiritual Silouan's Song, then a substantial improvisation from Hugo Ticciati and Soumik Datta leads to Peteris Vasks' violin concerto Tala Gaisma (Distant Light). This is the centrepiece of the first half of the programme, a substantial work which fluctuates between lyrical beauty and real violence, with Ticciati giving a terrific performance in the solo role. Another improvisation, this time from Soumik Datta and Sukhvinder Singh Pinky leads to 'Mother of God, Here I stand' from John Tavener's The Veil of the Temple overlaid with improvisations on the sarod from Soumik Datta. Given Tavener's interest in non-Western philosophies, this is a fascinating and seductive idea.

The second disc opens a remarkable performance from harmonic singer Gareth Lubbe. This uses vocal overtones in a remarkable way, and is followed by a repeat of the Tavener, this time without the improvisations, leading to an improvisation from Hugo Ticciati and Matthew Barley. Lennon and McCartney's Within You Without You (from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) follows; this was written whilst Lennon and McCartney were in India and its text is inspired by Indian meditative philosophy. The song is performed with the two Indian instruments, Soumik Datta on sarod and Sukhvinder Singh Pinky on tabla. A tabla improvisation leads to Arvo Part's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten.

A group improvisation links the Part to another Lennon and McCartney song, Across the Universe from Let it be, and the disc ends with a large scale semi-improvisation Raag Bhairavi based on melodies by Amja Ali Khan (born 1945) with additional material by Fraser Trainer, performed by all the performers on the disc.

There are a number of ways of listening to this disc, at worst it is some fine performances of Part and Vasks linked by unnecessary extraneous material. But that is to miss the point, if you want the Part or the Vasks then there are plenty of fine recordings of these works. Here it is the combination of material that matters, and I found the programme both seductive and thought provoking. The combination of Indian and Western musics works very well, with none of the changes of gear which can sometimes happen in this type of programming.

It is a set which asks to be listened to for its own sake. Not dipped into, but given a concentrated listen for the 116 minutes of the programme's duration. Handsomely produced, the booklet includes a number of thoughtful articles by Hugo Ticciati, Susannah Ticciati and Simone Kotva which provide a depth to the philosophies behind the disc.

Behind the scenes of making White Light from O/Modernt on Vimeo.

Arvo Part (born 1935) - Silouan's Song
Peteris Vasks (born 1946) - Tala Gaisma (Distant Light)
John Tavener (1934-2013) - 'Mother of God here I stand' from The Veil of the Temple
John Lennon (1940-1980) & Paul McCartney (born 1942), arr. Johannes Marmen (born 1990) - 'Within You Without You' from Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Arvo Part - Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, arr. Johannes Marmen - 'Across the Universe' from Let it Be
Melodies by Amjad Ali Khan (born 1945), additional material by Fraser Trainer (born 1967) - Raag Bhairavi
Hugo Ticciati (violin / artistic director)
Matthew Barley (cello)
Soumik Datta (sarod)
Sukhvinder Pinky Singh (tabla)
Gareth Lubbe (harmonic singer)
O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra
Recorded Petruskyrkan, Danderyds, Stockholm, Sweden, 13-20 August 2017, Johanneskirche Dusseldorf, 18 December 2017
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD0532 2CDs [61.22, 55.53]
Available from Amazon.

Elsewhere on this blog:
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  • Songs and duets from Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies at the Wigmore Hall (★★★★) - concert review
  • Liam Scarlett's new production of Swan Lake at the Royal Ballet - ballet review
  • 90th birthday celebration: my interview with composer Thea Musgrave - interview
  • Comedy & pathos:  Mozart's Cosi fan tutte at Opera Holland Park (★★★★) - Opera review
  • Elegie: Rachmaninoff, a heart in exile, Lucy Parham & Henry Goodman (★★★★) - Cd review
  • Sparkling opener: Verdi's La traviata at Opera Holland Park (★★★★½) - Opera review
  • The Dark Lord's music (★★★½) - CD review
  • Worth seeking out: Verdi's La Traviata from Hampstead Garden Opera  - (★★★½) opera review
  • George Benjamin & Martin Crimp's Lessons in Love and Violence  (★★★★½) - Opera review
  • A heart in exile: pianist Lucy Parham talks about her latest composer portrait - interview
  • Prophetiae Sibyllarum:  Gallicantus (★★★★) - CD review
  • Interesting programmes, strange timing - homages to Lully and Louis Couperin  at London Festival of Baroque music (★★★★ / ★★★½) - concert review
  • Musical style is like a language: I chat to German composer Moritz Eggert  - Interview
  • Alan Rawsthorne - a portrait: Chamber music and woodwind concertos (★★★) - CD review
  • Unashamedly Romantic: Reynaldo Hahn chamber music from James Baillieu and friends (★★★★½) - CD review
  • Transcendent mysticism: Vaughan Williams' Mass from St John's College (★★★★★) - CD review
  • Home

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