Did you miss the LPO’s spellbinding rendition of Julian Anderson’s The Crazed Moon in March? Don’t worry. In celebration of Anderson’s first season as the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Composer in Residence, the orchestra has made the piece available on their new ‘Listen Again’ feature:
(available until 20th June)
As Anderson writes, The Crazed Moon ‘takes its title from a poem by W.B. Yeats, in which he describes a frightening vision of ‘the moon, crazed through much childbirth/ staggering through the sky.’ This image combined with the beautiful lunar eclipse seen in March 1996 provided the main starting point for a work for orchestra lasting about thirteen minutes, in one continuous movement. The other factor determining the threnodic character and funereal mood of the work was the sudden death in September 1995 of a composer and friend, Graeme Smith, at the age of only twenty-four. This piece is dedicated to his memory.’
‘This tragic occurrence dictated the nature of much of the piece: predominantly slow, with tolling bells, heavy chords, keening melodic lines, and climaxes not only of mourning but also of protest. But two things make its expressive course over its 13-minute duration unpredictable. One is the overall plan of the work, which like a film sequence cuts between different elements developing independently of one another. The other is the incorporation as a recurring musical idea of Graeme Smith’s initials, G.S., which in German note-names spell G and E flat (Es). These two notes make a bright major third, which whenever it is used, harmonically or melodically, stands out in the darker, atonal context, to poignant effect.’
(Anthony Burton, LPO programme note, 2011)
The Crazed Moon was commissioned by the BBC for the National Orchestra of Wales in 1997 and has since been performed by many top orchestras including the CBSO, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and on several occasions by the LPO, with whom Anderson has had a long and close relationship. Previous to his appointment as Composer in Residence, Anderson was the LPO’s Composer in Focus in 2002/3, and he is also an active member of the London Philharmonic Choir.
This live recording of The Crazed Moon will form part of larger selection of LPO/Anderson recordings to be released at the end of his tenure as Composer in Residence.