A second rave for our probable record of the year

A second rave for our probable record of the year


norman lebrecht

June 05, 2016

Fiona Maddocks went to hear a recital last week by Steven Osborne, playing the same music that (unknown to her) had just blown us away in the Lebrecht Album of the Week.

Fiona saw the full five stars. She writes today in her Observer column:

Psychologists, with a name for everything, call it sedatephobia. Fear of silence. The compulsion to talk when the room falls quiet, to switch on the radio in an empty room, to rush from country quiet back to the reassuring roar of town. In part, this is about noise pollution. In part, it’s about hearing rather than listening, passivity rather than action. By calling his solo recital at the Barbican’s Milton Court The Music of Silence, the pianist Steven Osborne confronted the matter head on, with music by Morton Feldman (1926-87) and George Crumb (b1929). Although the works of these American avant garde composers had outbursts of noisy eruption, the primary issue was stillness. Even the tiny clicks of expanding and contracting overhead lights sounded fortissimo against the quietness of Osborne’s playing. No one clapped between pieces. There was barely a fidget or a cough. Nothing disturbed the concentration. The whole experience was a kind of enchantment.

And more here.



So why does this matter?

Because Steven Osborne had to use all of his persuasive powers to convince even an enterprising independent label like Hyperion to let him record contemporary esoteric music that he believed in with every fibre of his being. He got his way, just.

The result is a phenomenal recording, life-altering, ineradicable.

The artist was right. The artist usually is.

Let’s start believing it.

OsborneSteven0613col2_Benjamin Ealovega


  • Emmanuel says:

    I was gutted not to have been able to attend, but it’s wonderful to see people raving (at last!) about Feldman and Crumb’s music. This is, above all, music that requires live performance. I have yet to come across a recording that does it justice, though several (Osborne’s Hyperion recording included) come close. Maybe recordings are a little too… lonely for the different kind of listening that this music encourages. Shutting yourself in a room with your noise-cancelling headphones is, well, something different entirely.

    For those interested, Chris Villars maintains a calendar of Feldman performances at http://www.cnvill.net/mfperfs.htm

  • Cyril Blair says:

    You don’t have to convince me. I’m on board.