Born in 1964, Richard Rijnvos studied at the Hague Conservatoire with Brian Ferneyhough and now teaches composition at Durham University. Since the 1990s much of his music has been conceived in cycles, whose individual pieces may be performed separately – one, Block Beuys, was built around an exhibition of Josef Beuys; another, still work- in-progress, is about Venice. Uptown Downtown, completed in 2008 is "an urban panorama in six movements" that celebrates life in New York. Two works interlock to form the cycle: one, NYConcerto for piano and chamber orchestra would form the odd numbered movements in a complete performance; the other, Manhattan Square Dances, for two identical orchestras, yields the even-numbered ones. Yet despite the artifice, the music is wonderfully direct and genuinely engaging, whether referencing other composers – Ives, Gershwin, Thelonious Monk and Bernard Herrmann – in the concerto, or generating huge waves of rhythmic energy in the depictions of Manhattan. It's joyous and infectious, a real treat.
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