I’ve been intending to listen to Jonny Greenwood’s “contemporary classical” (still wanting for a better term!) writing for quite a while, but have never tracked it down until the release of this collaborative album with Krzysztof Penderecki.  As a teenage rocker (and still one at heart) whose emphasis moved towards jazz and concert music as years passed, it was the music of Penderecki and Lutoslawski that initially really turned my ears around when I started composition graduate school in the mid 80’s.  So I think I can relate.

Greenwood’s writing sounds rich; it’s engrossing and has a convincing, polished surface.   The presentation of his compositions in the company of Penderecki’s provides a helpful context--probably especially for listeners who aren’t already attuned to the 60’s Polish cluster/glissando repertoire.  (And in that light, many thanks to Mr. Greenwood for bringing this music to a wider audience.)  

I guess my main reaction is “very cool that JG is creating this music,” using his incredible professional success as a platform and means to expand and express across our rapidly blurring genre distinctions.  

What remains?  To my ears, Greenwood’s contributions don’t have the compositional shaping, sense of wholeness, that distinguish Penderecki’s Threnody and Polymorphia.  JG’s work is more skittish and episodic.  Fine.  Keep at it.  One hell of a happening rock star.

  Link to the review that got me thinking about this:



April 22, 2012 @11:49 am
Peter McLaughlin
I'm with you here... Greenwood's compositional output has always left me wanting a little more. His There Will Be Blood score was wonderful and effective film music, but as concert music, I think it falls flat. A bit of a mish-mash of styles, and imitations-- Ligeti, Messiaen, Penderecki... -- without much holding it together. Pleasant enough, but not powerful or original. However (!), I would suggest you check out his first film score and solo album, 'Body Song.' It's much more of a combination of his contemporary classical (I don't like that word either!) interests and rock/electronic/jazz interest. More nestled between his Radiohead and composerly identities. The film itself is incredibly powerful and the music probably should be heard in the context of the film first (as that is how it was conceived). Though I do think it holds up outside of the music as 'art music' (or whatever term one wants to use). There used to be a fine interactive website about the making of the film, but it seems it's no more. I did find this though: http://vimeo.com/24683492. The whole film is definitely worth checking out sometime. FYI: The music in the trailer is a slightly odd edit of a couple different pieces from the score.