Mondrian

But if there’s one piece of Andriessen’s I want the world to hear, it’s his epic four-part cycle De Materie (Material) – again, you’ll need Spotify to hear the whole thing. The first, inspired in part by shipbuilding in Holland, is a piece that transmutes its base elements of rhythm and percussion just as the base materials of wood, fabric and metal were crafted into the carriers of Dutch colonial power, and starts with a hammered-out sequence of the same chord, repeated 144 times. The second, a nun’s vision of her union with Jesus, is a magnificently sensual scena for solo female singer and ensemble called Hadewijch. The third, De Stijl (Style), is a boogie-woogie tone-poem inspired by Piet Mondrian’s work, and the final panel is a mesmerising meditation on death, relating musically to a work by Andriessen’s father, the composer Henrik. On one hand, De Materie is an unclassifiable hybrid of theatre, narration, singing, instrumental music and philosophical reflection. But it’s also quintessentially itself, and quintessential Andriessen, because every bar of it has an absolutely compelling materiality (see what I’ve done there), both on the level of the four parts and the cycle as a whole. It’s best heard together, but Andriessen – and I! – allow you to hear each section separately. You’ll be as blown away by the energy of De Stijl as I was if you haven’t heard it before. Music to change the world? Don’t bet against it, Louis; maybe Plato was right after all …

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