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Baker's Dozen

Amorphous Choices: Mira Calix' Favourite Music
Jude Rogers , May 8th, 2019 12:42

Jude Rogers quizzes sound sculptor Mira Calix about her favourite albums, from MBV to Britten, Stravinsky to Laura Cannell, and PJ Harvey to the bountiful joys of the Warp back catalogue


Claudio Monteverdi – The Eighth Book of Madrigals: Madrigals of Love (performed by The Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley)
I'm a massive Monteverdi nut. In 2008, I was commissioned to do a piece based around the 400th anniversary of his opera, L'Orfeo, for the Manchester International Festival – to give a contemporary response to it. I got obsessed with his madrigals at the time, especially one called 'Lamento della Ninfa', The Nymph's Lament. It is one of the most moving songs of love and pain and its extremities – highly dramatic, and it really influenced the way I wrote classical instrumentation. 

I love how in early and baroque music there are no set tempos. It's very free. There are so many weird overtones with contemporary classical composition. I've written some very avant-garde pieces that have been played by baroque consorts, and it just works naturally. I've also loved what I've read about Monteverdi. He suffered lots of personal tragedy – his wife and brother and daughter died – and he was obviously a very emotional man. He was always writing letters about needing his worked valued, moaning about not being paid enough. But just listen to his music – he was worth all of it.