Glasgo Improvisers Orchestra: Schweben – Ay, But Can Ye?

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: GIO
LABELS: Maya Recordings
ALBUM TITLE: Glasgo Improvisers Orchestra: Schweben – Ay, But Can Ye?
WORKS: Schweben – Ay, But Can Ye?
PERFORMER: GIO/Barry Guy
CATALOGUE NO: MCD1201

Advertisement

The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra commission for Schweben required something that could adapt to personnel changes and be realisable without Guy or any musical director being present. Guy can fulfil such a briefing: he has done much to explore methods of achieving fruitful accommodations between structure and freedom, between the vision of the composer and the aspirations of the improviser. The score includes graphics, 13 paintings by Kandinsky and the titular poem ‘Could You?’ by Mayakovsky (translated into Scots by poet Edwin Morgan), as well as ‘vetoes’, spontaneous interventions that can be activated in performances.

It’s not difficult to envisage parallels between this adrenalin-provoking performance and Mayakovsky’s service to (and conflicts with) the Soviet state. The music ranges from whole orchestra tsunamis of sound to muttering dialogues among small groupings via cathartically passionate episodes dominated by a spotlighted player. Stunning.

Advertisement

Barry Witherden