Great Britain National Championship 2022 – Hyperlink Test Pieces Review – 4barsrest

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What actually connects us isn’t quite what you might expect from Peter Graham’s latest work to be performed at the Royal Albert Hall this weekend.


The composer and his work

For a generation born into a world of laptops and smartphones, influencers, bitcoins and shopping on Amazon, being able to survive without being constantly plugged into a 24-hour global communication network is unimaginable.

If, however, you are somewhere north of your 40th birthday, you remember the joys of your youthful world of handwritten letters and reverse telephone charges, bedroom posters, Green Shield stamps and Woolworths, as if you were from another planet.

In just over 30 years, the World Wide Web has revolutionized the way we all interact with each other – and not always for the benefits imagined by its inventor Tim Berners-Lee.

We are living proof of Frigyes Karinthy’s idea of ​​the six degrees of separation.

Information currency

Today, information, not the dollar, is the currency that underpins global trends and commerce. Otherwise, why would the execrable Elon Musk want to buy Twitter?

Fiber optics are the arteries as well as the tentacles of the 21st century Internet – those that extend from a Pandora’s box of synaptically speeding binary pulses that can bring people together and push them away in disgust.

Fiber optics are the arteries as well as the tentacles of the 21st century Internet – one that extends from a Pandora’s box of synaptically-speed binary pulses that can bring people together and repel them in disgust.

Kindness as well as poison flow in nanoseconds across the world at the push of a button on the keyboard; bonds that can both improve and destroy lives.



We are all now connected in some way

There’s still a little hope

There is still a little hope. And that’s what makes Peter Graham’s national championship test piece such a fascinating reflection of our inextricably linked times.

The composer has earned deserved praise as a musical storyteller through several of his test pieces (“Harrison’s Dream” at ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ and ‘Dynasty’ etc) – with the ability to spell out an extended narrative with compact clarity.

“Hyperlink” it is very different. Despite the trio of chapter titles, there is no story to tell.

Connections

What connects JS Bach to Albert Hall’s Jupiter Organ, Ray Steadman Allen to Vaughan Williams’ “Tuba Concerto”, Queen Elizabeth II to Hubert Parry, are simply the diverse and sometimes deliberately tenuous trajectories that have emerged in seeking information to mark the 70th anniversary of Britain’s National Youth Brass Band.

It is intelligent musical architecture – allowing the listener to think about what is really important in the times we live in: the method and eagerness of the means of communication – the detours, the junctions, diversions and tangents, or the eventual substance of the result itself.

They form an intricately woven carapace scaffolding in which rests the body of the composition.

It is intelligent musical architecture – allowing the listener to think about what is really important in the times we live in: the method and eagerness of the means of communication – the detours, the junctions, diversions and tangents, or the eventual substance of the result itself.

dark consequences

In its own way, there is also a connection to John Pickard’s wonderfully realized composition, “Rain, Steam and Speed” (inspired by the famous painting by JMW Turner).

It also evoked the symbolism (a train of thunder) of man’s desire to connect to a place faster, with potentially grim consequences for who and anything that got in his way (in this case , a trotting hare).



Turner’s view on accelerating the speed of communication…

Millions of threads

For example, type JS Bach’s ‘Toccata in D minor’ in Google and over 2.2 million hyperlinked results appear: Albert Hall’s Organ fetches 1.8 million, Ray Steadman Allen’s half a million, Vaughan Williams’ Tuba Concerto 146,000 and Parry’s ‘I was happy’ churns up to 2 million or more.

Making sense of all these tangled threads of information takes time, with the composer refining his findings in three movements; an opening ‘The Voice of Jupiter’, followed by a central part, ‘Remember me’ and ‘Long live’ final.

Peter Graham is an expert musical tailor – the design, cut and fit of ‘Hyperlink’ packed into 14 minutes or more of elegant sartorial sense, although the famous opening declamation of the organ masterpiece by Bach quickly turns into a seemingly incomprehensible jumble of chord spaghetti.

Expert tailor

Peter Graham is an expert musical tailor – the design, cut and fit of “Hyperlink” packed into 14 or so minutes of elegant dress sense, though the famous opening declamation of Bach’s organ masterpiece quickly unravels into a seemingly incomprehensible jumble of chordal spaghetti.



Crypto culprit: JS Bach

Claim

It is as if the Abominable Dr. Phibes had been shot and fell on the keyboard of the Wills organ, leaving the 147 tuning fork pipes wide open in terror.

What emerges is a rather sinister piece of musical cryptography; a decidedly bass-driven row of tones that spells out the identity of the culprit – Bach himself.

The music is pushed relentlessly, dark and menacing (the dynamic having more girth than cheekiness) to return to that Toccata call and deadly slump, always troubled and questioning.

A snapping trot in the cornets and percussion gives the music a cold, minor touch with echoes of Bernard Herrmann, before a steady rhythm allegro (bang on black = 120) follows with its twists in rhythmic pulse and fugal development.

The music is pushed relentlessly, dark and menacing (the dynamic having more girth than cheekiness) to return to that Toccata call and deadly slump, always troubled and questioning.



RSA and RVW are linked in the middle section

Full contrast

What follows is quite the opposite.

‘Remember me’ is a heartfelt tribute to a trio of diverse personalities – disconnected in every way other than through research hyperlinks; Ray Steadman-Allen, Ralph Vaughan Williams and, above all, the composer’s father, Peter, who died in 2022 (the work is dedicated to the composer’s late parents).

memories of love evoked in the mind’s eye, increasing the intensity of desire until the last reminder of a benevolent soul lifted up to the heavens and nothingness.

good soul

The identities are signified in a notation reference for RSA (triad chords), a quote for RVW (the five-note cell of the tuba concerto) and with a personal favorite hymn for Peter Snr (Lowry’s “They’re going to sing a Welcome Home”).

It’s tender, reverent and touching – the warmly affectionate solos played against slowly syncopated, coldly descending lines (again with that subdued minor inflection thread).

Memories of love are conjured up in the mind’s eye, intensifying in the longing for a final reminder of a benevolent soul lifted up to the heavens and nothingness.



Esq Hubert Parry

tour de force

The finale is a tour de force; paced with intensity, scored with determination – the tie ostensibly a celebration (although there is no triumphant anthemic close) fueled by a series of pyrotechnic sparks rather than a full-fledged conflagration.

Some gnarled old stagers are sure to curse it.

More than a few eyebrows raised when “Hyperlink” was announced as the setting for this event, especially as it was commissioned for Britain’s National Youth Band, but Peter Graham has not tempered his ambition to test players to the max – from tubas to mop up with the percussions which are an integral part of everything.

Some gnarled old stagers are sure to curse it.



And the result will be presented to you by…

Mark 3Jag

It’s wickedly paced (marked black = 152) and technically demanding, with a need for razor-sharp clarity in the acoustics of Albert Hall. The fugal style returns, as does the menace and stickiness of dark marcato, albeit with hints of his favorite rhythmic pulses from 1970s Quincy Jones.

There’s also something gloriously pre-internet in the last section (just before the letter T), as if you’re shifting gears on an old Mark 3 Jag in a chase scene from ‘The Sweeney’ and the count- laps reached 168 heartbeats. to get away from the rozzers on Old Kent Road

There’s also something gloriously pre-internet in the last section (just before the letter T), as if you’re shifting gears on an old Mark 3 Jag in a chase scene from ‘The Sweeney’ and the count- laps reached 168 heartbeats. to get away from the rozzers on Old Kent Road.

visceral power

It’s the sound of old-school visceral power – blood and sweat, nerve and skill combined. Nothing computer-generated or electric-hybrid about it, either – and certainly no slowing down to draw applause from fans online before the last bar.

Perhaps it’s something the younger generation could appreciate for years to come as they look to their ever-present smartphones to find out the result on Saturday night.

Iwan Fox

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