Irene Kurka’s podcast interview with me, recorded in February 2019.
Rose Dodd’s book on my music, Perspectives on the Music of Christopher Fox – Straight Lines in Broken Times is now available in paperback from The Fox Edition: email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Arnold Whittall’s review of the book in the Summer 2017 Musical Times concluded that ‘Fox’s bold estrangement of the most basic elements of classical connectedness brings experimental cool into productive interchange with that modernist turbulence, and helps to highlight his skill at crossing borders considered insurmountable by more mainstream modernists.’
The original Fox Edition website with a catalogue of works by Christopher Fox: http://www.foxedition.co.uk/
A profile article by Philip Clark, now freely available on-line for non-subscribers of Gramophone.
Enlightened record companies whose catalogues include Fox CDs:
Diego Castro Magas plays Chile
Roger Heaton plays the clarinet duo from the stone.wind.rain.sun cycle
Anton Lukoszevieze plays The Feeling of Remembering, The Dark Road, Susan’s Purple, Arc and re:play (CD version; the LP has The Dark Road, Susan’s Purple, re:play and ‘The Principle of Design’ from Too Far)
The Delta Saxophone Quartet play Concurrent Air
Three recordings of Topophony: the WDR Sinfonie-Orchester conducted by Ilan Volkov, with improvising soloists Axel Dörner and Paul Lovens, John Butcher and Thomas Lehn.
John Snijders plays lliK.relliK
Andrew Sparling plays A place in the sky
Sam Cave plays Chile.
It’s difficult to make really convincing electronic or electroacoustic music these days, not so much for any lack of fascinating timbres but in spite of so many! Maintaining interest often means a kind of stunted emotionality. Imagine French Baroque harpsichord music, with all its ornamental intrigue, but all in major keys. The inundation factor means that composers working in electronic media must up the game, which Grainne Mulvey and Christopher Fox accomplish with fluency, intrigue, and, above all, a winning intensity.
Mulvey’s Aeolus was written for a sculptor’s installation, using the sounds of an Aeolian harp, but any melodic or harmonic content Chopin or Schumann might have imagined is left behind for a universe of clusteral drones that are somehow simultaneously dense and transparent. The only immediately recognizable sounds involve a backdrop of birds and open air. shimmering and gliding in and out of pleasant focus against motivically developed passages of varied articulation and fluctuating overtones. Ironically, there is something almost classical about the way elements unfold, even as points along the stereo spectrum are filtered in rapid succession or simply traversed. The birds invade, Hitchcock style, for a particularly effective climax where the wind is whipped into a maelstrom.
Comparatively speaking Fox’s Untouch is positively Spartan. If Mulvey’s clusters bespeak a kind of grainy purity, Fox goes all the way in this piece for percussionist who never actually touches an instrument, instead sweeping over it to produce sine tones. Temperament becomes Fox’s plaything as the piece steps slowly but boldly forward, note by note, harmonies only implied as tones intersect like the proverbial ships passing in the night. Repetition, at first the music’s major linear component, is slowly thwarted as the single line expands, each tone having its place along the stereo spectrum. Depending on how the music is heard, it can be hypnotic or amazingly complex. Like something by Steve Reich, the music presents a slow evolution, but there’s something beautifully innocent about the composer’s allegiance to simplicity or directness, as with many of Alvin Lucier’s beat pieces or like the equally hypnotic but much briefer second movement of Webern’s Variations for Piano.
Both Mulvey and Fox throw all matters of structure and form open to question and debate, and this is what makes the music so successful. Neither is concerned with effect or intrigue for their own sakes, and that certainty drew me into each world with interest and alacrity. Marc Medwin (Fanfare)
Heather Roche plays Stone.Wind.Rain.Sun, …or just after, Divisions, Straight Lines in Broken Times, Escalation, Unlocking the Grid, Early One morning and Magnification
Elizabeth Hilliard sings Sea to the west and Magnification
Chris Redgate plays Broadway Boogie and Headlong
Chris Redgate and the Kreutzer Quartet play the Oboe Quartet
Trio Scordatura sing and play für Johannes Kepler, BLANK, Trümmermusik: A Berlin Diary 1947, Generic Composition #8, Natural Science, Sol-Fa Canon for Aldo Clementi
“Presenting a cross-section of Christopher Fox’s works, this excellent disc acts as a reminder of the clarity of Fox’s voice and the depth of his language. für Johannes Kepler utilizes an intervallic structure taken from Kepler’s intervals derived from the orbits of the planets of our solar system. The keyboard is tuned to these, and produces a decidedly extra-terrestrial effect. The other instruments use more traditional (Earth-bound, one might say) modes of expression; in this way, Fox pits the one against the other. Alfrun Schmid is a superb vocal soloist […] her pitching exemplary in this often delicate piece. BLANK takes a long melodic line and presents it simultaneously at three different speeds. Over time, the impression of unity is dropped, bringing with it a discomfiting feeling of slow but inevitable implosion. Natural Science, with words by Ian Duhig, is a poignant setting of seven short texts, delivered here by Bob Gilmore. The flighty viola part is superbly rendered by Elisabeth Smalt. There is wit here, too, brought in with a deft compositional hand. The keyboard Sol-Fa Canon for Aldo Clementi (written for that composer’s 85th birthday) lasts for less than a minute. Clementi’s name is rendered in sol-fa while equating the syllabic lengths of his name with durations, doubling the values for his surname. It makes for the perfect end for a stimulating disc.” (Tempo, October 2012)
Ian Pace plays More light, More things in the air than are visible, Prime Site and two short composer-tributes, Paired off (Erik Satie) and Complementary forms (Michael Finnissy)
Ian Pace and Amanda Crawley play and sing two song-cycles to words by Kurt Schwitters, A-N-N-A Blossom Time and Louisiana, two sound-collages inspired by Schwitters, MERZsonata and Cylinders Barn, 1947 and some shorter works, I Sing for the Muses and Myself, Second Eight, Block and You, Us, Me
Anton Lukoszevieze plays Straight lines in broken times, Generic Compositions #3, #4 and #5, chant suspendu and Inner
The Ives Ensemble play Reeling, Etwas lebhaft, Straight lines in broken times and Themes and Variations
EXAUDI sing Catalogue irraisoné (for anyone who has ever wondered, the title is deliberately misspelt)
Karin de Fleyt plays the alto flute solo from the stone.wind.rain.sun cycle
Roger Heaton and friends play clarinet quintet
Kate Romano plays Generic Composition #7
EXAUDI sing American Choruses, A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory, Rendered Account and Open the Gate
Endymion play A study in daylight
Ian Pace plays lliK.relliK
Corrado Canonici and Anton Lukoszevieze plays Generic Compositions #5 and #8
Daniel Norman and Owen Gunnell sing and play The True Standard Advanced
St Catharine’s College Girls’ Choir sing A Dream of Winter
The Clerks sing A Spousal Verse and 20 Ways to Improve Your Life
Irene Kurka sings ‘Showing and Telling’ from Too Far
ensemble recherche play Lines of Desire