11. May 2020

New Music Monday #8

New Music Monday #8
Anthony Braxton’s Composition No. 359 at the Monday Concert of Bruce Collings in 2018 was Sara Cubarsi’s first performance with Ensemble Musikfabrik. Shortly before the lockdown in March, Sara Cubarsi and Florentin Ginot recorded the piece for the Label Musikfabrik.
On the blog, she writes about this experience as social process, full of engagement, and fun!

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“If one doesn’t have a very sociable day, it is very difficult to play Braxton! It’s supposed to be a very interactive experience. But I do have very good memories about Bruce’s Monday Concert in December 2018 (half a show of Braxton)! Two past dear mentors of mine are close to him, and had gotten me to know his work, but this was my first time performing one of his pieces – and also my first concert with Musikfabrik. His music really counts on the performer’s creative involvement, their ability to be inspired and react to the notated material, and their engagement with the other performers’ responses. It often calls for improvisation. The performer is many times invited to move between completely improvised moments, free-fall style, and openly notated material.
Braxton developed a very personal notation system. For example, in all the Ghost Trance Music pieces (like in Composition No. 359), the clef sign is a kind of rhomboid. You pick your clef  – and your instrument. So this piece is not necessarily for violin and double bass, and it can be played with more instruments. There are signs that indicate the possibility to improvise, and others which invite the performers to move into another piece. I remember we deviated into a few “secondary material” pieces in Bruce’s Monday Concert; these are secondary compositions that come with the piece, where one can jump into when there is a triangle-sign in the score.
Before recording it, Flo and I went back to the recording of the concert from last year, and decided to go for a more “condensed” shot at No. 359. It’s difficult to record a piece like this, how should one judge the different takes, when every time one plays the piece, something new happens? It’s fun and exhausting to rehearse, because of the energy involved. The performers must discuss how to structure all the possible materials, it’s a very productive way to get to know the other player, and in the end, the result is very personal and performer-specific. However, I think the most inspiring element about playing Braxton’s music is not the final performance or recording, but the social process that needs to take place during its preparation, leading to one of many possible valid versions of his composition.”

Sara Cubarsi