William Duckworth: The Time Curve Preludes
(March 17, 2023 / Neuma Records)
William Duckworth's The Time Curve Preludes is already 44 years old, having been first published in 1979. This recording with pianist Emanuele Arciuli adds Duckworth’s Simple Songs About Sex and War, written in collaboration with poet Hayden Carruth, and never released before.
Italian pianist Emanuele Arciuli's interpretation of the Preludes is sparkling and lyrical, with an unobtrusive precision. It draws the beauty out of each miniature, from the virtuosity of I to the languid mood of III.
The work of Duckworth (1943-2012) came as a contrast to the psychedelic and electronic-obsessed 1970s, and presaged the later Postminimalists such as John Adams and Julius Eastman. His work is both melodic and avant garde, incorporating musical fragments drawn from a wide range of sources.
As it explains in the liner notes:
"In turn, these musical fragments and jaunty tunes are subjected to calculated speeding-up and slowing-down (the time-curves) according to proportional number games (our old friend, Fibonacci, again)."
(My note: the Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers, where the next number is the sum of the two preceding figures.)
The result is mesmerizing, and never repeats itself.
Simple Songs About Sex and War, with vocalist Costanza Savarese, is part art song, part musical theatre in tone. Savarese is a talented and expressive artist who can wring the emotion from a song with a range of techniques. It's a worthy addition to the recording of Duckworth's seminal work.
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