The counter-tenor, and minimalism

The male counter-tenor voice is well suited to the ethereal. In Early Music, apart from Michael Chance, you can find many brilliant singers—Andreas Scholl, Iestyn Davies, and so on.

Veering somewhat off the beaten track, here’s Klaus Nomi (1944–83) singing Purcell’s Cold song:

for which I’m again indebted to Private passions, this time George Shaw.

Nomi was singing the song shortly before becoming an early victim of AIDS. But it still recalls the vibrant experimentalism of the New York scene, with punk and so on—like Diaghilev’s Paris, or indeed New York after the war.

Here’s a non-vocal interlude, linked by Purcell for our times.

Meanwhile England was buzzing too. Apart from punk, we had the films of Peter Greenaway, like The draughtsman’s contract (1982—just before Lost Jockey’s Buzz Buzz Buzz, and Madonna’s stunning debut album!) with Michael Nyman’s exhilarating minimalist take on Purcell:

And his funky Don Giovanni:

All this, note, at a time when it was neither profitable nor popular.

On the other side of the world, in a poor village in north China, Li Qing was leading the revival of his hereditary tradition of Daoist ritual, copying a full set of their manuals, preserved by his uncle Li Peisen.

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Later (we’re back in England with the counter-tenor now), Martin Jacques, in The tiger lilies, was spellbinding too.

 

* Note for Rowan: There, I did notice some popular culture at the time…

4 thoughts on “The counter-tenor, and minimalism

  1. Pingback: Just remind me again, what is music?! | Stephen Jones: a blog

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