Frankfurt embraces British composers

Frankfurt embraces British composers


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2021

The Ensemble Modern is streaming a concert this Sunday that is more adventurous than any heard in Britain recently.

It opens with Harrison Birtwistle’s playful “Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum” (1977/78), followed by Oliver Knussen’s “Songs without Voices” and Gerge Benjamin’s “Three Inventions” for chamber orchestra (1994).

The second half is given over to Helen Grime (pic) and Laurence Osborn, two composers of the younger generation – Osborn’s “Automaton for Harpsichord and Ensemble” (2019) and Grime’s piano concerto (2017).

That’s some concert.

Tickets here.



  • John Borstlap says:

    Maybe the ensemble got a bit tired of local Klangkunst and began to explore the progress of half a century ago in other countries:

    What does it have to contribute to a postcorona musical world? What insights are offered about the human condition?

    As another Brit predicted some 200 years ago:

    “When will return the glory of your prime? No more – oh, never more!” (Shelley)

    • Jan Kaznowski says:

      To quote Brit poets, I much prefer the optimistic line by Blake “But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”

      It was actually set by …wait for it…. Stockhausen in ‘Momente’

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Pessimism is ever with us. But despite Shelley’s despair, British art produced a few things of worth after his death, even if it hasn’t returned to its peak represented by Shakespeare.

      It’s no surprise that Mr Borstlap has no sympathy for Birtwistle (in general, he’s no favorite of mine, either), but perhaps one might give Knussen, Benjamin, Grime and Osborn a chance before dismissing the program.

  • Jonathan B says:

    “… more adventurous than any heard in Britain recently”.

    Some of us haven’t been able to go to any concerts in Britain recently.

    I do grant though, it is an intriguing programme for the right audience.

    For me at the moment, any live music would be good. Living in a small town, I have been enormously cheered to hear the organisers of our local festivals are optimistically putting programmes together for July and September.