Peter Greenaway b. 1942
Writing on Water (2005)
"It's good to return to familiar waters, to dip into that ocean of possibilities that imagery of water always provides, and the ironic title says much. Writing on Water would always be an impossible piece of magic, but supported here with film, music and appropriated quotes from celebrated authors you might almost believe it could be done." Peter Greenaway
A new collaboration between composer David Lang and controversial filmmaker Peter Greenaway confronts the audience with Lang's minimalist score and Greenaway's water-inspired libretto and visuals. Writing on Water interwaves fragments of text from The Tempest, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Moby DickDick to conjure up storms at sea, disasters, rescues and survival. Greenaway uses new VJ technologies to mix live film onto multiple screens.
The 'writing' element features live calligraphy by Brody Neuenschwander, Greenaway's collaborator on Prospero's Books (1991) and The Pillow Book (1996), projected live and creating an all-encompassing aural and visual experience. The London Sinfonietta performs Lang's hypnotic music, creating a dynamic interchange between sound and moving image.
Having pioneered cutting-edge music since its formation in 1968 (Xenakis, Ligeti, Berio and Birtwistle), the London Sinfonietta can often be found at the boundaries of new music, with recent projects including a tour with electronica artists Squarepusher and Jamie Lidell; performances in the Hayward Gallery, Tate Modern and Southwark Underground Station; a multimedia tour with Akram Khan Dance Company; and 3D Music — a ground-breaking co-commission with Braunarts to create a 3D virtual environment. The London Sinfonietta also broke new ground by adding Sound Intermedia, two sound engineers, to its line-up of eighteen principal players.
Currently led by artistic director Gillian Moore, the London Sinfonietta is an Associate Artist of the Royal Festival Hall.
Seldom have I heard the London Sinfonietta blaze so passionately, relishing the volume, colour, harmonic and rhythmic austerity of Andriessen's fiendish "muscular minimalism". A total triumph.
The Independent, 4 November 2005