It is hard to know what to make of the new streak of releases from Deutsche Grammophon and its sub-label Mercury.
The classical chart-topping ‘For Now I Am Winter’ by the Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds holds the attention for all of 18 seconds before losing it to a pair of summer flies crawling up a window. Mr Arnaulds is 26 years old. He will make a very good film composer.
Here comes another, also on DG. Sven Helbig is a German composer, founder of the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, producer for Rammstein and the Pet Shop Boys. DG are about to release his Pocket Symphonies with the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orch, Kristjan Järvi and the Fauré Quartet. It looks like classical, feels like classical, sounds like….. For Now I am Winter. The mind goes blank in a matter of seconds. There is nothing here to challenge the intelligence of an under-privileged newt. Mr Helbig describes his art, without irony, as being in the tradition of the Wagnerian Gesatmtkunstwerk.
So what are we to call these things on the new DG? Phony classical springs to mind, except there is nothing phony about them. What you hear is woefully what you get. Post-neo-minimalist? Too cumbersome.
Para-classical just about does it. Welcome to the new musical PC.