(shown as part of Cine Opera)
Insouciant goldfish slowed to supineness swim vacuously toward us and float languidly back out of the frame in this Nyman offering, at first reminiscent of countless relaxation videos. Underpinning the enchanting and warmly colourful scene, rich in tangerine and cyan, is placid piano and low string tones. A parakeet training record runs in the background, the stroking sounds of sofly murmured repetition, echoic phrases that our feathered companions will learn to in turn amuse and soothe us. “Pretty boy” is followed by “Clever little boy”, “Good morning”, “Mama’s little treasure” and a host of others. The gently swimming goldfish presented provide the counterpoint, and we are subtly made conscious of the role of these animals in our lives: the aural pleasure of the birds’ well-learned phrases counter-balances the visual pleasure provided by the fish. As the title suggests, we are presented with two enticements, the “pretty” and the “talk”. The viewer is left to bathe in sensual pleasures or perhaps resist the enticement to an all too pervasive (ab)use of pets. All comes to an increasingly disconcerting end as the melifluous female warblings are replaced by harsher, more insistent tones. The agreeable gradually gives way to the abrasive, and we are cordially escorted out of the scene…. Seductive and yet thought-provoking.
- Kenton Turk | Directors Lounge
Pretty Talk screened in cooperation with Myriam Blundell Projects
This two-DVD set offers a fine introduction to the life and work of contemporary British composer-performer Michael Nyman, best known for his film scores. The first disc features filmmaker Silvia Beck’s biographical portrait Michael Nyman—Composer in Progress, which includes much quasi-autobiographical material drawn from interviews with Nyman (as well as footage of the composer traveling and going about his daily routine), along with excerpts from conversations with relatives and colleagues. Nyman’s cinematic work is documented via clips from films including Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract, Jane Campion’s The Piano, and Volker Schlöndorff’s The Ogre, but only Schlöndorff discusses Nyman’s contribution. The documentary appropriately closes with reference to Nyman’s recent forays into video art and an appearance of the Michael Nyman Band at London’s famed Proms concerts—a central event in England’s cultural life—which underscores Nyman’s acceptance into the British musical establishment. The second DVD serves up a 2009 performance in Halle, Germany (Handel’s birthplace) by Nyman’s 12-member ensemble. The 19 selections certainly exhibit the composer’s distinctive musical voice—marked by growling lower brass textures and driving ostinatos—and include his recent work “The Musicologist Scores,” which alludes to Handel’s music, just as earlier compositions reference Purcell and Mozart. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, and PCM stereo, this is recommended. (three stars) (F. Swietek)
English composer Michael Nyman is best known to lay audiences as the composer of the score to Jane Campion’s 1993 film The Piano. Extraordinarily prolific in both film scores and concert music (principally for his own ensembles, the Michael Nyman Band and Orchestra), Nyman released three albums on his label, MN Records, in 2010. This album, Collections: Film Music Photography, features a DVD of a short film shot by Nyman, 50000 Photos Can’t Be Wrong, a booklet of his photography titled Cine Opera, and a CD retrospective, Portrait of a Label. The film and photography are visually striking (and the film contains music not found on the disc), but I will focus on the CD in this review.
Gaining mainstream recognition for the propulsive, minimalist scores created for Peter Greenaway films in the 1980s and the romantic, haunting soundtrack to Jane Campion’s The Piano in the early 1990s, Nyman continues to plough a highbrow furrow that takes in opera, as well as writing for string quartets, chamber orchestras and his own Michael Nyman band. We dropped by his London home to ask him who he had chosen as the winners from our design awards shortlist. Link: http://www.wallpaper.com/video/art/design-awards-2011-judge-michael-nyman/748725839001
Film by Darius Noriowzian, RSA Films
The great Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov was one of the pioneer film theorists in the silent film era. Composer and wickedly astute former music critic Michael Nyman is famous as the first to apply the fine arts term “minimalist” to music. They meet on this disc, on the music that Nyman wrote as soundtrack music for Vertov’s films “A Sixth Part of the World” (1926) and “The Eleventh Year” (1928). It all stems from a cup of tea Nyman had with a representative from the Austrian Film Museum wherein Nyman was challenged to write music for the two films Vertov…