I am always suspicious about concert music with electronics – whether live or pre-recorded. I think it is partly to do with my engineering background, and partly to do with the lack of conviction of the presence of the electronics element in these pieces. The electronics element often seem to be out of context in the instrumental framework which lead one question the reason of its presence. Imagine a Lamborghini Reventón with a hip bath fitted in the passenger seat – unjustifiable silliness. Instead of unlocking the imagination with the help of technology, the composers become its prisoners.
To me, there are a handful of pieces which employ electronics with conviction; in fact, they are rather striking: George Benjamin’s Antara, Jonathan Harvey’s Bhakti, Boulez’s Anthèmes 2 and Julian Anderson’s The Book of Hours.
This list had expanded last Saturday when I heard Philippe Leroux‘s Voi(rex) for female voice, six instruments and live electronics as part of Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series. It is a serious, humorous, unpredictable and totally indescribable piece of music. The final minutes of the piece contain some of the most surreal and magical moments I have experienced in the concert hall for a long time. There is a recording, but I think it is best to see/hear it live. So look out for it.