Why is it that period instruments lend themselves so well to supposedly modern music? Maybe those antiquated sounds were more modern than we perceive them to be, or it could be that our conceptions are less modern than we care to believe. This sextet employs both Anna-Kaisa Meklin's viola da gamba and Anna Lindal's baroque violin, and they work remarkably well in the realization of this large, varied but crystal-clear Magnus Granberg score.
As is often the case, the title and compositional strategy are illuminated in an extensive interview on the Another Timbre label site. The music is compared to late Morton Feldman, and while there is certainly merit in the analogy, there are many other and somewhat less streamlined factors in play. Repetition seems to flourish on a smaller scale and in a more pointillistic fashion. The rapid-fire interplay of Granberg's prepared piano and Christoph Schiller's spinet is telling both in terms of pitch similarities and timbral contrast. There is a constant sense of motion, even in the most reflective passages, like the nearly minimalist intertwining at the 17-minute mark. However, despite a flurry of pitch activity and a treasure trove of sound inhabiting each moment, there is a simultaneous static quality, due in large part to d'incise's softly pulsing bowed percussion and electronics.
The contradictory nature of the title speaks directly to the music's dualistic nature. It is difficult to imagine a music that is at once hectic and almost preternaturally calm, but there it is. When silences or near-silences occur, it is as if they are earned rather than anything springing from expectation. The same goes for the occasional triad, which, as in Schoenberg or Webern, is an extraordinary sound when heard after long absences. While Feldman called Cristian Wolff the Webern of the future, the appellation might also be applied to Granberg. Like the instruments he employs, his music is neither ancient nor modern, neither completely improvised nor strictly composed, and yet, the parameters he employs are often quite strict. The music hails from and dwells on multiple planes, embodying a universe of aching beauty and stark structural integrity, all in a dynamic range that demands subtlety from performers and utmost listener attention, while also rewarding it.
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