GUARDIAN – RLPO/Nyman/Hillsborough Memorial some pastiche, but beyond parody

Michael Nyman’s 11th symphony, marking the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, reused parts of earlier works to create an occasion for reflectionParody was the term 18th-century composers used for the recycling of earlier material, and as a composer heavily influenced by the baroque it’s no surprise that Michael Nyman should be an accomplished parodist. Commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Liverpool Cathedral to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Nyman’s 11th symphony was a premiere of sorts, though a significant proportion of its 50-minute duration was the product of rigorous repurposing.The first movement, The Singing of the Names, was originally performed in Liverpool to mark the city’s hosting of Euro 96. It took approximately 15 minutes for Merseyside-born mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge to intone a litany of the 96 victims in a steadily rising tessitura, and, although it is a sublimely moving conception, one only wishes it could have been shorter. The second section was a seraphic meditation reminiscent of a kyrie, angelically sung by the Philharmonic’s Youth and Training Choirs. The third movement, based on subdivisions of the number 96, featured a bass line that evolved from a lugubrious cantus firmus to a swinging boogie, possibly in acknowledgement of Liverpool’s rock’n’roll heritage. Continue reading…