Piers Tattersall

rarescale's Artistic Director, Carla Rees, talks to Piers Tattersall ahead of their premiere of Analogue on 30th September 2015
What is your musical aesthetic?
Modernist and post-romantic. Someone once said a piece of mine sounded like 'happy Berg' and I rather like that.

What attracts you to rarescale as an ensemble?
The skill of the players and the variety of the rarescale concert programmes are, I think, a reasons for anyone to be attracted to the ensemble. Beyond that though, this is an ensemble that takes risks on a regular basis, and there's a unique vitality to their programming that comes out of this.

Tell us about the background of Analogue – how did it come to be written and what’s it all about?
I've wanted to write music that uses a radio for a long time. There's a kind of intimacy in radios. They're familiar objects and everyone knows how to use one. They're one extension of 'the concert hall', but when they sit on the stage they acquire a new meaning and the distinction between 'here' and 'everywhere' becomes a little harder to define. There's a lovely line in Brideshead Revisited "science anhilates distance" and I think that's been one of the most important ways in which technology has impacted our culture. This piece is about that.

How does this work relate to your other compositional output?
It's my second piece with a radio in. With the first piece I was deliberately trying to interrupt my compositional processes and the results sounded very, very different to anything else I'd written. This piece sounds a little more like what I was writing before. The radio is less disruptive in this piece, but it has allowed me to say something new.

What have been your career highlights so far?
Writing a violin concerto for Henning Kraggerud and the Britten Sinfonia. He's an exceptional soloist and they're an exceptional orchestra.

How do you see the role of new music in modern society?
Reflective of it. So much of the music we listen to comes to us (or at least, comes to me) through speakers and headphones. I think technology has changed the way we listen to music just as it has changed the ways we communicate, and new music ought to engage with that fact.

Is classical music dead?
By definition 'classical' forms don't die, but I think the idea that there is such a thing as 'high art' has fallen out of favour as being too elitist. I think this is rather simplistic. Denying the existence of high art isn't so different to denying there are such things as formal clothes. In the end this denial means we have fewer ways of articulating ourselves, and we miss some of the richness in society.

If you could choose three pieces of music that have had a big impact on your life or musical development, what would they be and why?
Mass for 4 voices by William Byrd. Singing the tenor line of this piece was one of the best harmony lessons I ever had.
Piano Concerto No. 4 by Beethoven. It starts with a soft explosion. Sometimes the most dramatic musical moments are very soft.
Les Espaces Acoustiques by Gérard Grisey. For me this is the greatest piece of music of the last 50 years. I felt my perception of the space and time and the people around me changing, not unlike waking up, and then going back to sleep again.





rarescale premieres Analogue for Kingma System flute and radio at The Forge in Camden on 30th September 2015