Nachschriften / Landler


As co-director of new music organization The Firm, Raymond Chapman Smith has quietly presented over 130 concerts of new music. But his uncomplicated disinterest in recognition or recording means his music is rarely heard beyond the walls of Adelaide's Elder Hall, where The Firm's annual concert series is presented to a regular audience of 50-100 initiates. This is the first album of his work, played by US born Australian-Iranian pianist Amir Farid. As a teenager in the 1970s, Chapman Smith began performing in AZ Music in Sydney with the recently returned Australian assistant to Cardew and Stockhausen, David Ahern, feeding new ideas into the local music scene, and fielding phoned-in performance instructions from La Monte Young for their improvisations at Brett Whiteley's gallery. After moving to Adelaide to study with Richard Meale, through the '80s and '90s Chapman Smith founded and co-helmed loosely Cageian composer-performer collectives. Since 1996 he has co-directed new music organization The Firm, reveling in the poetic aesthetic of 19th Century German romanticism. On Ländler from 2002, Chapman Smith says: "The references, the paying of homage to Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Wolf, and Zemlinsky are so obvious as to hardly need comment. They are heard through lenses polished by a later, more reductive aesthetic and a somewhat fortuitous arrival at a kind of diatonic serialism." Of 2003's Nachschriften: "Some of my thoughts while making this music revolved around a passage from a speech which Paul Celan gave in 1958. Celan, of course, was speaking of lyric poetry but I would respectfully paraphrase his words as follows ... 'Music is not timeless. Certainly, it lays claim to infinity, it seeks to reach through time -- through it, not above or beyond it. Music, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the -- not always greatly hopeful -- belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Music in this sense too is underway: it is a making toward something. Toward what? Toward something standing open, occupiable, perhaps towards an addressable Thou, toward an addressable reality.'"