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Kevin Volans: piano:string quartet:chopin, x:y:k. Melvyn Tan, Calefax, Signum Quartett. Wigmore Hall, 11 December 2019

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2020


Kevin Volans achieved remarkable fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the Kronos Quartet's recordings of White Man Sleeps and Hunting:Gathering. With record-breaking album sales, he was perhaps even one of the most accessible twentieth-century composers operating outside of the popular or film music spheres. Thirty years later, his position could not be more different. Volans's controversial 2016 keynote at the Contemporary Music Centre Ireland, entitled ‘If You Need an Audience, We Don't Need You’, announced most vehemently his current stance in its Babbittean (or, more accurately perhaps, Feldmanesque) denouncement of populism and the music industry. For him, the tactics of publicists and marketers engender a breakdown in respect between audience and composer, while short-form works required by festivals are the epitome of a composition culture in regression.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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