The artist John Christie and Booker award-winning writer John Berger (‘Ways of Seeing’) decided to collaborate on a project, but didn’t know what it might be. From urban London, Christie sent Berger, in southern France, a square of colour, with a letter that ended with the sentence ‘I send you this cadmium red… ‘. John Berger replied, musing on this and on many other colours, thereby setting in motion an extensive correspondence that moved into meditations on the essence of individual colours, but ranging widely through poetry, art history, memory. This correspondence was eventually published as an elegant book and the recording retains the book’s episodic and varied non-narrative approach. In this recording, which was originally made as a radio broadcast by Sony Award winning producer Paul Bennun, a selection of these letters is read by their authors, accompanied by original music by Gavin Bryars, who began to work with John Berger through their mutual friendship with the late Juan Muñoz. The music is performed by members of his ensemble, and the richly dark-toned music is designed to underline the colour themes in the texts – their texture, their atmosphere and their resonance.
In addition to the radiophonic work there is the addition of The Island Chapel, written for a project with the Tate Gallery St Ives, and which is alluded to in the Christie/Berger exchanges. This recording is of the first performance, in the tiny St Nicholas Chapel perched above the Tate and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
John Christie, speaking voice (I Send You This Cadmium Red)
James Woodrow, electric guitar (I Send You This Cadmium Red)
Roger Heaton, bass clarinet (I Send You This Cadmium Red)
Bill Hawkes, viola (I Send You This Cadmium Red)
Gavin Bryars, double bass (I Send You This Cadmium Red)
Melanie Pappenheim, voice (The Island Chapel)
Sophie Harris, cello (The Island Chapel)
Gavin Bryars, electric keyboard (The Island Chapel)
2. John Berger "The red whose father is the knife"
3. John Christie “Yves Klein Blue”
4. John Berger “The Blues: I am yours or you are mine”
5. John Christie “Black/ Darkness”
6. John Berger "Blackness: a touching you didn't know existed"
7. John Christie “A Patch of Light”
8. John Berger “Yellow/ Gold”
9. John Christie “A Quality of Light” l
10. John Berger “Genevieve”
11. John Christie “Triangular Yellow”
12. John Berger “Saffron”
13. John Christie “Substance”
14. John Berger “Three Insomniac Poems”
15. John Berger “Coda: our need of colour”
16. Gavin Bryars: The Island Chapel