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Black Square

Texts and music on the theme of abstraction, with readings by Lisa Dwan and Peter Marinker. With Rimbaud, Eliot and Samuel Beckett, plus Beethoven, Berio, Satie and Parmegiani.

Lisa Dwan, who has been touring her one woman Beckett show to huge critical acclaim, and Peter Marinker, who's about to star in Waiting for Godot at the Cockpit Theatre, explore the work of Wallace Stevens, Rimbaud, T S Eliot and of course, Samuel Beckett; the musical counterpoint is provided by, amongst others, Kurt Schwitters, Beethoven, Morton Feldman, Berio, Satie, Parmegiani and Nancarrow.

Tying into a series of programmes as BBC Four Goes Abstract and to a Free Thinking Debate at Tate: Figuring out Abstract Art

Kazimir Malevich's Black Square is a totem of abstract art. He said the aim was to free art from the ballast of objectivity...a struggle which would probably seem rather odd to most composers. Music, after all, is effortlessly abstract by nature even when it seems to be insisting on its relationship with the world. Words are another matter altogether. Literary abstraction works sometimes like painting and sometimes like music.
My Black Square is then, necessarily, more of a meditation than a manifesto. It is tentative. It aspires to vivid colour, like Kandinsky, but it includes the minute monochrome shadings of Rothko. In the choices I've made I've left room too for argument . Where does abstraction begin? Is it a feature of the way we experience the world and the way we express ourselves about it? Is it dead and buried, as the erstwhile abstract painter Wyndham Lewis once rather grandly declared. As you might expect from an adventure into the abstract the programme works as a collage in the hope of creating something new.

Malevich is at Tate Modern until October 26th.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 14 Sep 2014 17:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Orchestral Suite in B minor

    • 24.
  • 00:01

    Kurt Schwitters

    Scherzo from Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters

    Performer: Eberhard Blum.
    • HAT HUT.
    • Tr 3.
  • translated by Oliver Bernard

    Vowels read by Peter Marinker

  • 00:04

    Ellington, Miley, Jackson

    Creole Love Call

    Performer: Adelaide Hall and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
    • Conifer.
    • Tr1.
  • Wallace Stevens

    Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:08

    Edgard Varèse

    Ionisation

    Performer: Pierre Boulez and Ensemble InterContemporain.
    • Sony Music.
    • Tr1.
  • Herman Melville

    From Moby Dick - The whiteness of the whale read by Peter Marinker

  • 00:14

    Anton Webern

    Five pieces for Orchestra op.10, 1

    Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • Tr5.
  • T S Eliot

    The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:15

    Anton Webern

    Five pieces for Orchestra op.10, 2

    Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • Tr6.
  • T S Eliot

    The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:17

    Anton Webern

    Five pieces for Orchestra op.10, 3

    Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • Tr7.
  • T S Eliot

    The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:19

    Anton Webern

    Five pieces for Orchestra op.10, 4

    Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • Tr8.
  • T S Eliot

    The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:24

    Anton Webern

    Five pieces for Orchestra op.10, 5

    Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • Tr9.
  • T S Eliot

    The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:27

    Morton Feldman

    Rothko Chapel, 5

    Performer: University of California Berkeley Chamber Chorus.
    • New Albion.
    • Tr5.
  • 00:29

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Orchestral Suite in B Minor

    • Tr 23.
  • Paul Celan

    Todesfuge translated by John Felstiner read by Peter Marinker

  • 00:34

    Luciano Berio

    Sequenza V for trombone

    Performer: Benny Sluchin, Ensemble InterContemporain.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • Tr4.
  • George Herbert

    Prayer read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:42

    Arvo Pärt

    Ludus from Tabula Rasa

    Performer: Tamsin Little, Martin Roscoe, Richard Studt and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta.
    • EMI.
    • Tr6.
  • William Empson

    Villanelle read by Lisa Dwan

  • 00:54

    Bernard Parmegiani

    From de natura sonorum – Pleins et delies

    Performer: Bernard Parmegiani.
    • INA-GRM.
    • Tr11.
  • Kasmir Malevich

    From Suprematist Manifesto – The Square, translated by John Bowlt read by Peter Marinker

  • 00:59

    Conlon Nancarrow

    Toccata

    Performer: Ensemble Modern.
    • RCA Victor Red Seal.
    • Tr13.
  • Raymond Queneau

    From Elementary Morality translated by Philip Terry read by Peter Marinker

  • 01:02

    György Kurtág

    Ligatura-Message to Frances-Marie( The answered unanswered question)

    Performer: Keller Quartet.
    • ECM New Series.
    • Tr22.
  • Samuel Beckett

    From Texts for Nothing – IV read by Peter Marinker

  • 01:08

    Erik Satie

    Vexations

    Performer: Alan Marks.
    • Decca.
    • Tr16.

Producer’s Note

Kasimir Malevich's Black Square is a totem of abstract art. He said the aim was to free art from the ballast of objectivity...a struggle which would probably seem rather odd to most composers. Music, after all, is effortlessly abstract by nature even when it seems to be insisting on its relationship with the world. Words are another matter altogether. Literary abstraction works sometimes like painting and sometimes like music.

 

My Black Square is then, necessarily, more of a meditation than a manifesto. It is tentative. It aspires to vivid colour, like Kandinksy, but it includes the minute monochrome shadings of Rothko. In the choices I've made I've left room too for argument . Where does abstraction begin? Is it a feature of the way we experience the world and the way we express ourselves about it? Is it dead and buried, as the erstwhile abstract painter Wyndham Lewis once rather grandly declared. As you might expect from an adventure into the abstract the programme works as a collage in the hope of creating something new.

 

The readers in this edition of Words and Music are Lisa Dwan, who has been touring her one woman Beckett show to huge critical acclaim, and Peter Marinker, who's about to star in Waiting for Godot at the Cockpit Theatre. Together they explore the work of Wallace Stevens, Rimbaud, T S Eliot and of course, Samuel Beckett; musical counterpoint is provided by, amongst others, Kurt Schwitters,  Morton Feldman, Berio, Satie, Parmegiani and Conlon Nancarrow.

 

Black Square is part of a short season of programmes investigating the idea of abstraction which include BBC Four Goes Abstract and a Free Thinking Debate at Tate: Figuring out Abstract Art. Tate Modern’s  Malevich exhibition runs until October 26th.

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