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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Larry Polansky, These are the Generations

It is sometimes easy to forget but every composer's oeuvre in an avid listener's cycle came to present itself to her/him more or less one or two works at a time. Each piece of one's avid listening is a kind of praxis that maintains itself by the experience of hearing and re-hearing. So with Larry Polansky (b. 1954) for me. If you type his name in the blog search box above you will see I have previously heard and reviewed two volumes of his music on these pages. I liked them much. They were post-Minimal works in a Radical Tonality vein, well done.

I am happy to report a new volume just out, These are the Generations (New World 80819-2), a furtherance of the Polansky opus with six works that span the period 1985 (initial version of two works) through to 2019. Not all, but many are mainly diatonic and they also occupy a sort of post-ambient space, too.

The title work "Eleh Tol'd'ot (These are the generations..)" (985/2017) is one of the more remarkable of all the works here. It is a most pleasingly elaborate sonance for four marimbas.

My personal favorite, "22 Sounds" for percussion quartet is a wonderfully contrapuntal carpet for tuned drums, metallic instruments, etc. It gives us endlessly engaged, continual event making and I am happy to put it on often right now.

The "five songs for kate and vanessa" (2019) is a lyrical foray of a touching tonal ritual essence for Kate Stenberg on violin, Vanessa Ruorolo on cello and for two of the five movements, Amy Beal on piano. Each movement occupies its own space--either somewhat startlingly (with "corner cows" and its folk lyric) or as slowly and painfully beautiful (as in "courante"). The finale, a timeless folkish "jig" gives us something to reflect upon as the concluding movement.

I will forgo any more of the blow-by-blow descriptions of every work because they each form wholes that have a specially personal quality--and they are of course best experienced as music. I've given you an idea so you might know what to expect and that I hope is sufficient.

Polansky refuses to be pigeonholed in this program. Every work follows its own muse. The sum total makes for a fine listening experience indeed. I recommend this by all means.

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