Introduction / Elissa Poole
The three lines of counterpoint in James Tenney’s To Weave (a meditation) look inordinately simple on the page, each on its separate stave and in its own register, never more than one note struck at a time. To get from one side of the page to the other takes 30 seconds, always, although sometimes there are more notes to play within that time frame. When the notes are sparse, we hear each in relation to the other as a kind of slow, haphazard arpeggio. But as the density of notes increases (perceived as an increase in tempo and accompanied with a crescendo), that simple field splits into three distinct lines. We don’t pinpoint the exact moment when one way of listening supersedes the other, though we are swept forward and back with each rush and retreat. But Tenney calls it a meditation with good reason, for we can’t help observing our own desire for (and effort towards) wholeness in the way we apprehend what we hear. Listen hard enough and the ego lets go.
Jo Kondo’s meticulously voiced chords in the incantatory Metaphonesis are percussive and sharp-cornered, conjuring wood blocks, gongs, or wind chimes, and they make no harmonic claims—as if aspiring to a state both purer and more abstract. The sensual occurs out of earshot in the mingling of overtones or in the silence between chords— created, as in Tenney’s piece, out of our own desire. But then towards the end each in a long procession of chords weighs in against the same pristine sound, and each establishes a relationship we immediately embrace. Where, though, do we locate that fixed point? Is it outside, or inside?
Michael Finnissy speaks of and to Satie in ERIK SATIE, like anyone else, to Satie the velvet gentleman, to Satie the iconoclastic (we choose the word because it sounds like breaking glass) worshipper in the Church of One, trudging between Montmartre music hall and suburban cubbyhole, a scribble of gnomic phrases in his manuscript book. Purity and mental static compete before the imaginary conversation begins, a recitative in which the mind loses track, repeats itself, quotes from memory, and waits for answers. Melodic ideas circle back, neither quite modal nor quite memorable and always cryptic, but this music, too, finds grace in dance—a raggy two-step…not like anyone else’s. EP
Herl, 2003 – Martin Arnold
“Herl” isn’t a coined word or even a verb. Herl is the barb or barbs of a feather used to dress fishing flies and it’s the name that belongs to this composition— written for Eve Egoyan with admiration and thanks. ~MA
Herl was commissioned by Eve Egoyan with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.
To Weave (a meditation), 2003 – James Tenney
Waves for Eve, wave upon wave, little waves on bigger waves, et cetera, but precisely calibrated to peak at the phi-point of the golden ratio. To weave: a three-voice polyphonic texture in dissonant counterpoint, with a respectful nod in the direction of Carl Ruggles and Ruth Crawford Seeger. And finally, a meditation on the wondrous physicality and inescapable spirituality of all our music-making. ~JT
To Weave was commissioned by Eve Egoyan with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Metaphonesis, 2001 – Jo Kondo
I respect each sound in music. Each sound must have its own entity and life. However, sound itself is not yet music. What I have been doing in my compositions is to create a web of intertonal relationships, while trying to safeguard the possibility of aurally perceiving the individual entity and life of every single tone (or chord) in that relationship, for it is this relationship that makes sounds music. The title Metaphonesis implies this belief of mine.
This piano piece is dedicated to Eve Egoyan. ~JK
Metaphonesis was commissioned by Eve Egoyan with financial support provided by the Japan-Canada Fund at the Canada Council for the Arts.
ERIK SATIE, like anyone else, 2002 – Michael Finnissy
But not like anyone else. Not quite belonging. Losing himself in his music. A singer of plainchant, a ritualist, an innovator, lover of ragtime and the American two-step, a classicist. Poised and innately balanced. Keeping an appropriate distance, hieratic. The Wagnerian Chabrier of ‘Gwendoline’ (the mystic orgies of Sâr Péladan), the discipline of the Schola Cantorum (the bizarre curios), the secret allusions and confused, unbidden memories—just like anyone else’s. But this isn’t Satie, it’s me (plus Satie after a hundred years). In which time the poor and lonely man is no longer taken as an absurd joke, or some sort of technical incompetent. In which time ‘cadences’ finally become an obsolete form of punctuation. In which ‘cost’ replaces ‘value’, and diatonicism rises again from beneath the frozen waters of serialism, its bloated carcass hideously cleansed of any life or identity. Satie—hero of my early teens, provocateur and renegade. Fighting the hazy and some say ‘unreal’ battles alongside Ives and Varèse. Soon to be joined by Busoni and Schoenberg. All in a moment of history. This moment. Written specially for Eve Egoyan, the particular character, depth and sensitivity of touch and phrasing with which she illuminates the music she plays: an alchemy, authenticity, and fearlessness. ~MF
ERIK SATIE, like anyone else was commissioned by Eve Egoyan with the assistance of the British Council.