Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre
Over the past ten years, since their double album of the music of Laurence Crane, Apartment House have appeared on over thirty Another Timbre CDs. Though plenty of other ensembles also feature on the label, Apartment House have recorded for us so often that they have almost become Another Timbre’s house band.
The batch of five composer portrait discs released in July 2022 were all performed by Apartment House, and show something of the range and musical excellence of the ensemble. We asked Apartment House’s founder, cellist Anton Lukoszevieze, to talk a little about the history and underlying aesthetic of the ensemble.
Apartment House was created in 1995, simply in order to perform music that I liked and was curious about. As a young man, enquiry was the motivating force behind many of the early concerts, and this is something that continues to this day. The early concerts were a combination of iconic experimental composers such as John Cage and Christian Wolff, with eurocentric modernist explorations containing first UK performances of Helmut Lachenmann, Mathias Spahlinger, Gerhard Stäbler and Dieter Schnebel, for example. These concerts were complemented by the music of younger composers such as Laurence Crane, Jennifer Walshe, Alwynne Pritchard, Tim Parkinson and John Lely, to name just a few.
The name Apartment House refers obliquely to John Cage’s work ‘Apartment House 1776’. I wanted a seemingly neutral name. A lot of music groups are called ensemble, sinfonietta, sinfonia, group, etc. which didn’t seem to me to embrace any sense of new exploratory adventure, and also seemed just to relate to historical hierarchies of music making. Apartment House has always had a flexible instrumentation, enabling freely available combinations of instruments and works to be performed. This characterisation is not really true today of course, as there is a plethora of ensemble set-ups, but in the 1990’s a lot of groups still maintained an identity that was a microcosm of the symphony orchestra with many, many works for 13 players.
In terms of programming, I don’t think that there were that many groups performing programmes such as ours in the 1990’s. Today things have changed and there is a resurgence in experimental music practices, an interest in sound art, performance art, etc. I think though, that perhaps Apartment House still quietly maintains a unique position in the European music scene.
I have always seen direct connections between experimental music and visual or conceptual art practices. This is fundamental to much of the work we perform, and is something largely ignored by an establishment that still views composition as a conventional, purely musical phenomenon.
Another way in which Apartment House differs from most other contemporary music ensembles is that it is not an organisation; it is simply the result of my imagination. It doesn’t have a business plan, a board of directors, a company registration or a team of artistic advisers, or indeed any level of funding.
Over 27 years of activity the programmes we perform have changed, and yet they haven’t really changed at all. Our first concert contained music by John Cage and our most recent concert did. I think the programmes are essentially fluid; I may discover a younger composer, an older work that is interesting, or a particular set of works may go together in an interesting way, or a single focus on one composer may happen. If anything is different from the early days, it is that there has been a move away from more conventionally notated modernist music, but even that is not always so. Perhaps a lot of the music we perform now is more economically notated, or experimentally, with the use of graphic-type notations or text scores. But what is at the heart of our work now is, perhaps, still an experimental desire for sonic enquiry. Even in the simplest way, as I observe in the work of Ryoko Akama, Joseph Kudirka, Luiz Henrique Yudo or Jürg Frey. ‘What happens if I write music like this?’, as opposed to saying, ‘This is music, this is composition’.
List of Apartment House CDs on Another Timbre
Solo discs by Apartment House musicians
Almost all of these releases are on sale at reduced prices
until 12th August. Click on the titles for more information.