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Pranks with music

Etcetera  KTC 1219

Record Box


The range of styles and techniques adopted by some composers provides a trunkful of costumes donned and cast off with such speed within a composition that to us as listeners everything blurs to a whirligig. Marijn Simons, a young Dutch composer and violinist is, behind the mask, a talented musician brimming with ideas. His strong sense of the ridiculous as a creative tool follows many such in the past and of today. It derides any feeling of musical sanctity by deflating music and listener.

There arises a question simple and straightforward: 'Will the real Marijn Simons please stand up?' I'm sure that he would respond immediately and provide an excellent introduction to his music. I think though, if we pursue this question through our musical ears, the thoughtful will respond to what is suddenly thoughtful in the music, and most of us can accept clowning when it's apparent that a talent for clowning has brought it about.

Marijn Simons - Cuddly Animals. (c) 1999 Etcetera Record Company BVTo put all this into context for this CD, Simons' first Violin Concerto is subtitled Cuddly Animals to portray his favourites from early childhood. There are five movements starting with Gorby the gorilla through to Wappy the chimp [listen to music from 'Ricky, the frog' - track 4, 00:16-01:00]. Next comes 'serious' String Quartet No 2 with various devices and musical ideas to build three movements, most of which is unified through patterning and structure [listen - track 7, 03:45-04:20].

Capriccio for Stan and Ollie for nine players can hardly claim a serious purpose, and doesn't. Yet I find this the most musical and resourceful of the three works. The composer of this touch of riotous nonsense shows his skill in combining music and theatre - or perhaps I should say the cinema's Laurel and Hardy [listen - track 10, 00:14-00:59].

Copyright © 8 March 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews