How “baroque” was Michael Nyman in Athens, last Saturday?

Michael Nyman Performs in Mexico

On March 5th, Michael Nyman and his band presented “The Baroque Project” at Megaron Music Hall and OZON was there to see them live. After a two-hour journey we departed, having gained the best impressions.

It is difficult to describe in words the experience of seeing live the living legend of minimalistic music (a term he invented himself in order to describe the concert of a Danish composer, when still working as a critic and “chases” him ever since ), Micheal Nyman. Closely connected with Peter Greenaway’s work , with whom he has collaborated extensively, as they have worked together on five feature films. The music of four of them was presented live during Saturday’s concert: “The Draughtsman’s Contract”, “A Zed & Two Noughts”, “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” and “Prospero’s Books”.

It started only ten minutes after the scheduled time – in a packed Misic Hall – with the well-known to all of us “Chasing Sheep is best left to sheperds”. Even if you are not familiar with the movies his music appears in, you will immediately recognise it – in fact you can immediately tell if this is a Michael Nyman composition thanks to its characteristic melody that enchants you. This is exactly what happened on Saturday: he transferred to us plenty of images through his music (it is not a coincidence that when he is not composing, he wanders around with a camera), he inspired us with his humility (at the end of each piece he would stand up and thank us). His band consisted of two violins, one viola, one cello, two saxophones and a flute, a horn, an trumpet, a bass and a bass trombone, while apart from his film work, he performed “the Musicologist Scores” during the first part of the concert (Nyman’s tribute to Handel), while in the second part, which was more pompous, except for “Memorial”, he enchanted us with “Prospero’s Book” and ended with “Water Dances”, based on the madrigal of Claudio Monteverdi.

Actually, seeing Micheal Nyman live is like having an overview of his career in two hours time. Two hours that have gone by so quickly that you wonder if you float or if you are still seated, without minding if the woman next to you is recording the concert on her cell phone. It seems that Micheal Nyman encloses the whole mentality of baroque in his work and sets it free during his concerts just like a Pandora’s box which hurries to be opened. And when it is finally open, it impresses you. It moves you. It stimulates your imagination in a unique way. In a “nymanistic” way.

Highlight of the evening: “An eye for optical theory” from the soundtrack of the film “The Draughtsman’s Contract”, which (according to us) is also among his best work.

See an excerpt from Michael Nyman’s concert, on Saturday March 5th 2016, at Megaron Concert Hall:

(Source: youtube / Mousikis Egomion)