Magazine November 19, 2015, Issue

Contemporary Classical: A Listening

(Roman Genn)

Some years ago, I was covering a concert at Carnegie Hall, whose program included a new work. A world premiere. When it had ended, I leaned over to the critic across the aisle from me and said, “I’m so sick of that piece.” He threw back his head and laughed. He knew exactly what I meant.

We had never heard this specific piece, of course — but we certainly knew the type. It was the “perpetual-motion piece,” as I sometimes call it, or the “frenetic piece.” Busy busy busy. There are other standard types, too.

There’s the sci-fi piece, with glubs and

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