Belgian composer Jean-Luc Fafchamps writes in an appealingly post-everything style, with diatonic minimalist gestures butting up against wheezy microtonal drones and so forth. Fafchamps’s latest muse is the Arabic alphabet, specifically a Sufi chart assigning certain characteristics to the various letters; he’s in the midst of writing an ode to each letter. This progress report documents a concert performance of his first “word”, which is—how about that?—paced like a concert.
“K” opens the show with big, gregarious horn fanfares, string flourishes, and heavy percussion; the lighter “D” contrasts pinched ostinatos with colorful clarinet and percussion runs. “Gh” slows everything down to a 14-minute gasp before a distorted oboe concerto and pastoral woodwind feature carry us through to the brawling open-form finale, which incorporates some of what we’ve already heard. Despite the conventional shape of the program, the individual “letters” don’t develop like musical narratives; they communicate a sense of stasis, even as their unique timbres and effects keep them revolving in your mind’s eye.
// Notes from the Road
"We’re coming to see HEALTH for the experience, for the kind of intense musical attack that leaves one needing a stiff drink...READ the article