Archive for July, 2018

The review in question being from John France of MusicWeb International.

Mr. France begins his review of Entangled States by admitting that he “is baffled as how to approach this double-CD”. In this state of bafflement he continues.

That there are “48 separate, short piano pieces: all untitled save for their roman numerals” (those are, by the way, titles) presents him with “difficulties”. More difficulties are to be found “in the 10 pages of densely, but not necessarily opaquely written text” which he says “calls for profound study, not a quick glance”. Well, Mr, France yes, it’s not exactly this week’s issue of The Beano.

Mr. France has looked up what he said in his revue of the Three Sonatas and has regurgitated ad verbatim some of what he wrote then. He is still vexed that “he cannot get a handle on the composer”. Does he really need my shoe size to be able to write a review of the music?

He states that he was not able “to give it all my full concentration”, that he tried to read the liner notes but was “stumped by the density of the text”. It is at this point that we must ask if Mr. France is best employed as a critic.

Finally after pecking and quibbling at what is not the music he does get around, albeit very briefly, to actually mentioning it. “And finally, most important of all, what does this music sound like? It could be described as Kaikhosru Sorabji” (again a reiteration of his former review) “having cocktails with Bill Evans, Count Basie, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky” but then readily admits that this is a “sweeping stylistic simplification”. That is all that he has to say about the 48 pieces of music. That seems to be the summation of his insight. Is it sufficient for any potential listener to “get a handle” on my music?

Then a completely unexpected, dramatic, volte-face. “It is typically comprehensible to the listener and nearly always pleasing to the ear… This is an impressive and often quite beautiful production”.

So, in summary, he doesn’t like anything about the CD other than the music.

Here is a link to the complete review:

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Entangled States

Some four years ago I made a small pencil mark on a blank sheet of manuscript. The relocation of stuff in my head to stuff on paper had at last begun. This project had been swirling about in my thoughts for quite some time and now my ideas had clarified, become defined to the point at which I knew I could take on the challenge of what I considered to be quite a daunting undertaking.

That moment was the first step on a long creative process which has involved the combined skills of a small group of supremely talented people – Mary Dullea, Alex Van Ingen, Scott McLaughlin, Peter Vodden and Stephen Sutton. For regular habitues of this blog these are familiar figures and need no introduction. Without them my ideas, my music, would not go beyond the confines of my studio. I am deeply indebted to each of them.

Entangled States extends my Non-Prescriptive methodology. For further explanation I refer you to Scott McLaughlin’s well-researched and detailed sleeve notes. These can be downloaded. The structure of E.S. is comprised of 48 pieces of short duration. 24 are written in my low-order format and 12 in middle-order/high-order formats each of these having 2 realisations. This to demonstrate the raison d’etre of Non-Prescriptive compositional and performance techniques – namely that each piece can be played (realised) in an infinite number of ways.

Divine Art has described Entangled States as an “astonishing masterpiece of contemporary complexity”. I hope that this epithet does not deter people from listening. It might be that many people are not attracted to the idea of introducing further complexity into their already complex lives.

Entangled States seeks to push against certain established compositional boundaries. An increasing body of opinion reckons that I am “taking music in a different direction”. If this is the case I must hope that I can take my audience with me to wherever my journey leads.

Now that the CD has been released I must await the comments and evaluations of the reviewers. Perhaps it should not be so, but as a composer I exist embalmed in permanent layers of doubt and uncertainty and, from choice, work in a self-imposed near- vacuum. Their generous comment and approval lends me some degree of assurance, a motivation to continue, so necessary on the many days I hit the compositional buffers.

To conclude this post I include a very recent brief review from Naxos which is the largest independent label in the world and one of the biggest-selling classical labels. It is also one of the largest global distributors of independent classical record labels such as Divine Art.

“Eric Craven is like no other composer – both because for most of his life, he has been a recluse from the musical establishment while living out his role as family man and teacher, and also because his compositional technique is his alone. Aleatory in general principle but more complex, his works contain elements of both high-order and low-order ‘non-prescriptive’ writing – in other works varying degrees of flexibility allowed to the performer. Totally abstract in form and concept, though inspired by a principle (here, the particle entanglement in Quantum Mechanics), the pieces, especially ‘low-order’ where the score is more prescribed, can take on the appearance of other forms such as baroque fugue, romantic prelude or even soft jazz. Moreover the music is hardly ever ‘challenging’ for the listener, with quasi-tonal, melodic flow. In many ways Craven is laying down a new direction for piano composition. Mary Dullea in her third album of Craven’s music demonstrates her amazing pianistic prowess but also her perceptivity and understanding of the scores which she realises in full showing wonderful expertise in interpretation. Dullea, as both solo artist and member of the Fidelio Trio, is becoming one of the ‘must-hear’ pianists in the contemporary music world.”

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