My Curves are not Mad, a 14-minute work for string ensemble inspired by the late cut-outs of Henri Matisse, receives its premiere by Britten Sinfonia at London’s Milton Court on 20 March, with additional performances in Norwich and Saffron Walden.
Displaying Coult’s proclivity for clear incisive gestures and rich, luminescent harmonies, it was inspired by the following passage from Henri Matisse’s ‘Jazz’:
MY CURVES ARE NOT MAD. In determining the vertical direction, the plumb line along with its opposite, the horizontal, forms the compass of the draftsman. Ingres used plumb lines; in his studies of standing figures note the unearned line that passes through the sternum and the internal anklebone of the “leg that bears the weight.”
Around this fictive line “the arabesque” evolves. I have derived a constant benefit from my use of the plumb line. The vertical is in my spirit. It helps me to define precisely the direction of lines, and in quick sketches I never indicate a curve, that of a branch in a landscape for example, without being aware of its relationship to the vertical.
My curves are not mad.
‘I like Matisse’s approach’, Coult writes. ‘The shapes and lines of his cutouts are so incredibly imaginative, inventive and organic, but he suggests that they are conceived always with reference to plain vertical lines. I enjoy and identify with the idea that no matter how intricate or unpredictable the twists and turns of a piece of work, the artist must first erect the invisible, objective structures that support their material like scaffolding supports the construction of a building.’
This is the first of two high profile commissions for Coult this year, the other being Beautiful Caged Thing, a song cycle, for Claire Booth and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by George Benjamin which will be premiered at this summer’s Aldeburgh Festival
More details of the Britten Sinfonia performances can be found here