German composer Johannes Kreidler shows off his provocative, technology-driven work tonight | Bleader

German composer Johannes Kreidler shows off his provocative, technology-driven work tonight


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Johannes Kreidler
  • courtesy of Johannes Kreidler
  • Johannes Kreidler
For the last few weeks I've been meaning to check out the music of the young and provocative German composer Johannes Kreidler, who makes a rare U.S. appearance tonight at the Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater at 7:30 PM, where Ensemble Dal Niente will play a selection of his works. I did look around for some commercially available recordings of his music, but I had no luck. Yesterday afternoon, however, I fell down a rabbit hole watching a bunch of his video work, which masterfully demonstrates the conceptual chutzpah and humor in his technology-driven work.

Some of the music on tonight's program is a bit too arch for my tastes, such as "Charts Music" (2009), which plots the cheesy synthesizer tones melodies created with Microsoft's Songsmith software using data from the 2008 stock market crash. More satisfying and deeply entertaining is a series of works called "Split Screen Studies," an array of very short pieces, most of which derive source material or conceptual underpinnings from important works of contemporary classical music by composers like John Cage, La Monte Young, Bernhard Lang, and Salvatore Sciarrino. In numerous instances he locates performance footage of work by those composers on YouTube and creates a collaged grid of short samples from the original, taken at different points in each piece, to create something entirely new and jarring.

His humor comes through when he applies this technique to a performance of Cage's 4'33", which suggests that 16 snatches of silence are just as silent as one. Kreidler is obviously posing questions about fair use and cultural appropriation, a theme that arrives front and center with his controversial piece "Product Placements" (2008), which uses 70, 200 samples in one 33-second piece. He turned the work in a bit of performance art when he drove to the offices of GEMA—the German body that handles performance rights—in a truck carrying forms for each of those 70, 200 samples. A documentary about the work will screened as part of tonight's program.

In terms of the participation of Dal Niente I suppose the centerpiece of the event will be a performance of Fremdarbeit (2009), an "outsourced" chamber piece where live flute, cello, percussion, and keyboard navigate a thorny, sample-laden landscape that suggests a John Oswald Plunderphonics piece mashed-up with a ripped-up Earle Brown score. While I find some of the music super irritating, just about all of it is pretty fascinating and thought-provoking. The free concert will also include a discussion with Kreidler and members of Dal Niente moderated by University of Chicago scholar Seth Brodksy.

Today's playlist:

Marzette Watts, Marzette and Company (ESP-Disk)
Riccardo Chailly & Royal Concertgebouw, Olivier Messiaen: Turangalîa-Symphonie (Decca)
Christian Lillinger’s Grund, Second Reason (Clean Feed)
Tyson Naylor Trio, Kosmonauten (Songlines)
Chaya Czernowin, Afatsim (Mode)