April 23rd 2005
LSO St Luke's - London, UK
Performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Robert Ziegler
When Radiohead made ‘Meeting people is easy’, their bleak view of contemporary stardom and the inhuman demands it places upon celebrities, they served notice that they had no intention of becoming bound up in the convention pathways of rock and roll.
‘Kid A’ and the extraordinary big top experience that followed rammed this home with aplomb. But who would have thought that their radicalism would lead one of their leading lights into the classical concert hall? Following his appearance on Radio 3’s ‘Mixing It’, Jonny Greenwood found himself commissioned by the BBC Concert Orchestra; Saturday’s concert unveiled their first joint piece of work, along with a canny selection of Jonny’s favourites that sets his classical ambitions in context.
It was a spellbinding evening. From the opening bars of John Adams’ ‘Shaker Loops’ to the grand finale of Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Psycho Suite’, taking in Part, Messiaen, Gorecki, two stunning Ligeti harpsichord solos and a little Scott Walker on the way, we were given a crash course in sonic intensity.
Of course this is Jonny’s stock in trade, so unsurprisingly his own ‘Popcorn Superhet Receiver’ – a tribute of sorts to the sonic landscape he inhabited during long car journeys in his youth – took no prisoners. In the context of such masters it bit off more than it could chew, perhaps, but if this is a taste of what’s to come from him in the future it was nothing less than enthralling.