Jonny Greenwood has received high acclaim for the world premiere performances of five new works he’s written for guitar and ensemble, given with the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO) soloists at The Wapping Project on Sunday 23 February 2014. The event proved to be somewhat of a honeypot, attracting a sell-out crowd of about 500 to the converted hydraulic power station, to hear Greenwood solo on the ondes martenot, tanpura and electric guitar.
The setlist also consisted of works by Xenakis, Messiaen, Bach, Purcell, Finnis, the programming of which is said to have ‘augmented and made sense of Greenwood's sonic evolution’ (Lucy Jones, NME). The Greenwood and LCO collaboration is a familiar one as LCO recorded Greenwood’s original soundtrack for The Master and programmed his Doghouse for the 2012 Reverb Festival at The Roundhouse, London.
Sinfini Music interviewed Jonny, prior to the event to find out a bit more about him and the gig.
Interviewer: This Wapping gig sounds interesting – what attracted you to the idea?
Greenwood: I've been inspired by the recent LCO concerts in London - they're usually in unlikely locations, and have a strange mixture of informality and seriousness that I rather like. On top of that, they're an absurdly talented group of players to write for. I enjoy having specific players in mind when I'm writing - it makes the process more real, right from the start to know the players involved.
Interviewer: And what else will you be unveiling?
Greenwood: There'll be a couple of new pieces. I'm still working on these with 6 days to go - but it's a nice feeling to be writing music for a one-off concert, instead of a recording. I like the sensation of music going into a room and disappearing. It's such a strange thing, when you're used to everything being recordable and re-producible.
To read the whole interview, follow this link.
‘The first new piece, 'Miniature', is sweet, diaphanous and piano-based. 'Fight With Cudgels', as its name would suggest, is much more muscular and bracing. 'Microtonal Sketches' is a hypnotic and disorientating work made out of notes with intervals less than a semitone. It sounded like some kind of bat ultrasound. 'Loop' saw Greenwood take up the electric guitar which was, yes, looped and built on, blooming and pulsing. It had more in common with the Radiohead idiom than anything else on the menu. Before 'Self-Portrait With Seven Fingers' began, the audience were directed to a web page with a message saying there were 7x7 chances to chime in with the piece using our mobile devices. Soft, pacific bleeps were released all over the power station like an audio constellation. It was a potent way of bringing the crowd into a mutual experience, common to rock gigs but unusual at traditional classical concerts...
The five pieces suggest Greenwood's creativity is at a particularly fertile and interesting point. Though he's only been publishing classical music for a decade or so, I imagine there's a lot more to come. The pieces premiered last night are, in my mind, some of his greatest works.
It was live music at its most electrifying.'
NME (Lucy Jones), 24 February 2014
TV newsreader and presenter, Jon Snow, attended the event and has shared some reflections on the evening on his Channel 4 blog:
'The spirit was electric and the focus settled on the amazing, and massively talented Jonny Greenwood – lead guitarist of Radiohead, player of virtually every instrument there is from the viola to the computer. But above all, last night he was Jonny Greenwood, contemporary classical composer. Some of the music flowed from the film, There Will We Blood, but most was new material.
Greenwood’s work is harmonic, sumptuous, and emotionally deeply moving. It demands extraordinary talent and skill from the London Contemporary Orchestra under its 27-year-old conductor, Hugh Brunt… His conducting is graceful, and maintains an extraordinary discipline in the players… the atmosphere was absorbing, excited and hugely appreciative of the music.
Greenwood himself played several different instruments, depending on the piece. The climax was his guitar playing, most effectively in the final pieces – Future Markets, from There Will Be Blood, and Mate Kini Kura Ne from Norwegian Wood.'
To see the full article, click here.