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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peter Garland, After the Wars, Sarah Cahill

Piano music in a radical tonality mode is what comes through nicely on Peter Garland's 20-minute, specially priced EP After the Wars (Cold Blue 0044). The program consists of four brief interrelated, visceral, poetic tone sounding works for solo piano, played characteristically and with elan by Sarah Cahill.

The titles of the works give some idea of where the music is coming from: "Spring View: The nation is ruined, but the mountains and rivers remain (after Tu Fu)," "Summer grass/all that remains/of young warriors' dreams (after Basho)," "Occasional Poem on an Autumn's Day: When I am at peace, I let everything go (After Ch'eng Hao)," and "A snowy morning/and smoke from the kitchen roof--it is good (after Buson)."

A local world, then, after the wars have ended, all is still. That is the feeling one gets from the music. It takes sheer pleasure in the combination of tones, yet the expression goes beyond a pure sounding to evoke moments of peace through all the four seasons, peace and loss, then transcendence.

This is piano music that comes out of Satie, tonal Cage and Feldman, through to its own territory, in a radical tonality vein typical of the Cold Blue label yet very much in its own right.

It is a beautiful evocation that relies not on the typical linear connectedness of standard melody but rather has simultaneity that arises from piano soundings that link with a sort of an abstract disconnect of fragile tonal events which nonetheless have poetic flow when experienced together.

There is beauty, a spacious unraveling in no hurry to get to an end point, yet each movement stays a little while and then is gone.

This is another very entrancing program from Cold Blue. Peter Garland weaves a web of expressive, muted magic and we readily fall under its spell.

Very recommended.

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