Peter Broderick Music for Contemporary Dance Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Haunting neo-classical work from the Berlin-based composer.

Michael Quinn 2010

Music for Contemporary Dance showcases two works written to accompany ballets by the increasingly prolific Peter Broderick. Since releasing his first seven-inch vinyl single just three years ago, the American-born, Berlin-based composer and performer’s distinctively contemporary voice and obvious gift for collaboration has led to significant partnerships with the likes of Horse Feathers, Laura Gibson and iconic Danish indie-rockers Efterklang.

Coupled here are Music for Falling from Trees, composed for the London-based choreographer Adrienne Hart and first released last year, and Music for Congregation, written in early 2010 to accompany a ballet "entirely for pedestrian performers" created by media artists Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler under their KMA banner.

Anyone looking for telling musical anchors and references will find an obvious affinity here with Dark Debussyists (to coin a phrase) Gavin Bryars and Roger Doyle, both pieces echoing their sinewy, edge-frayed and tortured timbres spot-lit by shards of redemptive melodic light.

Scored for piano and strings, the seven-part, 30-minute Music for Falling from Trees shares the concern for subterranean textures that has long been a signature element of Bryars in works like The Sinking of the Titanic and Out of the Darkness. That last title could almost serve as a subtitle to Broderick’s emotionally charged depiction of a psychiatric patient struggling to maintain his identity.

As an exercise in minimalism, it deftly illustrates Broderick’s ability to make much out of little. Poetic, meditative, hypnotically slow (and not a little exhausting), it seems to hover in a tremulous space that crackles and groans with a not fully realised turmoil and painfully unresolved tension. It moves with all the solid, glacial grandeur of huge, drifting ice floes, the surface straining towards the light, what lies beneath pulled down by irresistible forces. In a word: haunting.

With its own steady, measured footfall, Music for Congregation is an apt companion. Simultaneously premiered in September at Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum (as part of World Expo) and Bournemouth’s Inside Out Festival, it is lighter and more loosely grained; a gently swirling and swaying fantasy with engaging melodic themes (on piano and strings augmented by accordion and percussion) played out on an attractively varied electro-acoustic patchwork.

This is music that surely deserves a larger audience that its limited edition 10-inch vinyl release will enable it to reach.

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