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Colin Matthews and Minimalism

Donald Macleod explores works by Colin Matthews inspired by music of the past including Minimalism, Mahler and Strauss.

Donald Macleod explores works by Colin Matthews inspired by music of the past including Minimalism, Mahler and Strauss

Composer of the Week explores the life and music of contemporary composer Colin Matthews, through the lens of being inspired by composers and music of the past. As part of BBC Radio 3's New Year, New Music season, Colin Matthews joins Donald Macleod in studio to discuss the influences of past music upon his own works. Although he doesn't see himself as part of any musical school or tradition, he does acknowledge that for him the most important period in musical history is the first two decades of the twentieth century, and that the likes of Schoenberg, Berg, Debussy, Stravinsky, Mahler and Britten have all had an impact upon his own music.

Colin Matthews learned the piano from a young age, but his real musical education came when he began to devour music scores from Leytonstone Library including works by Strauss and Ravel. In 1960 came the Mahler centenary when he had the opportunity to hear all the symphonies by Mahler, and from that point he became obsessed with the composer. Matthews in particular was struck by the scope of Mahler's music, the scale and variety achieved.

As a composer himself Colin Matthews explored Serialism, but he arrived at a stage when he was wanting something else. Minimalism was like a breath of fresh air for him, in particular the early works of Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Elements of Minimalism can be heard in his Fourth Sonata, where there is little movement away from a more static tonality. In the end Matthews felt the need to move on, and his work Divertimento has a very different character. Matthews had an idea in C sharp minor which just wouldn't leave him, and so he expanded and worked with this. What evolved in Divertimento, and became a surprise for him, was the obvious links with the music of Richard Strauss.

Gustav Mahler Arr. David & Colin Matthews
Ich ging mit Lust (Lieder und Gesänge No 7)
Ruth Ziesak, soprano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Daniele Gatti, conductor

Colin Matthews
Fourth Sonata
London Sinfonietta
Oliver Knussen, conductor

Divertimento for Double String Quartet
Divertimenti Ensemble
Oliver Knussen, conductor.

1 hour

Last on

Tue 2 Jan 2018 12:00

Music Played

  • Gustav Mahler

    Ich ging mit Lust (Lieder und Gesänge No 7)

    Music Arranger: David Matthews. Music Arranger: Colin Matthews. Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Daniele Gatti Mayhler Symphony No 4.
    • RCA.
    • 5.
  • Colin Matthews

    Sonata No 4

    Orchestra: London Sinfonietta. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
    • Colin Matthews.
    • Decca.
    • 1.
  • Colin Matthews

    Divertimento for Double String Quartet

    Ensemble: Divertimenti Ensemble. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
    • Colin Matthews Divertimento.
    • NMC.
    • 1.

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