Reporting Back: Mihailo Trandafilovski talks about this work at the CMRU, Goldsmiths, University of London 31 10 19

Posted on November 1st, 2019 by

Reporting Back: Mihailo Trandafilovski talks about this work at the CMRU, Goldsmiths, University of London 31 10 19

It fascinates me, that I can work extremely closely with friends, and yet, when they stand up to talk in detail about their art, I find that I have so much to learn, indeed to study, about their art. So it was last night. Mihailo gave a talk about his roots and process, hosted by Roger Redgate, in the Council Chambers at Deptford Town Hall. I can’t reproduce the talk, but here are some observations and reactions. It was a truly fascinating evening.

Perhaps the most striking thread running through the evening, was Mihailo’s interest in and utilisation of, polarity in his work. He showed a wonderful sketch graphing bout the first 16 harmonics on each string of a string quartet, balanced by a set of resultant tones from double stops (tip of the hat to Tartini here) and, as a plumb line, the ratios between strings tuned CGHDAE (being 2:3. 3:5, 1:5). And then he demonstrated how these complementary contradictions can be heard in the opening of his quartet ‘FibersANDCoils’.

Harmonics to the left. Resultant tones to the right, ratios below!

This in itself was and is wonderful, but then (and this is not so common among composers working in the spectral field), he then talked about how all of his decisions, explorations and discoveries were and are defined through phrasing. ‘Phrasing’ is not a word that you hear that much from younger composers, and especially not as al tool. He demonstrated this, at work, if you like, by playing two Kreutzer Quartet recordings of the opening of the quartet above, each phrased differently, allowing us to hear the startlingly different outcomes. Even though these were recordings which I had made, I confess that this was a wonderful and enlightening surprise for me.

Fibers & Coils (Kreutzer Quartet)

Another polarity which he explored was in finding a vision for a soundworld for his clarinet quintet, which was written for the great Roger Heaton. Yet again, he offered a clear picture of two wolds, this time of  wind instrument and the quartet as ‘super string instrument’ with shared and separate areas, demonstrating how the exploration of the possible conversations, correlations and contradictions  between these areas gave him a territory in which to site, to build the wonderful ‘Magnets, Lava, Crystal’.

Magnets Lava Crystal ( Roger Heaton & Kreutzer Quartet)

Exploring his astonishing ‘Chetiri’, written for the New London Chamber Choir, he added another element to the mix (in addition to the dialogue between voices and string quartet), being, this time the colours and textures of Macedonian consonants and vowels, and the colour and drama of bring this all into the mixture.

Mihailo Trandafilovski in conversation (painting by Edward Cowie behind)

Overlaying all of this was his demonstration, again and again of how different tuning systems, just, tempered and expressive, can bee overlayered, mixed, opposed, utilised for colour and drama. Evern though I have spend many years exploring his approach to this, it is still as refreshing and striking asd the first time that I encountered it.

I could go on with this much more, and probably will but for now, I just wanted to offer a couple of observations from an enlightening evening from my friend and colleague, a great artist.