Byron and Polansky, Maximalist Piano Music at Interpretations in Soho

by danielgoode

March 17, 2011 11:51:10 PM EDT

Maybe it is or is not Kyle Gann’s definition of maximalist. But intensity of piano composition, played brilliantly by Kubera and Nonken, could qualify. Both composers winged into the air as Minimalism was fading into the sunset while flaccid Post Modernism rose in the East. They each took some major ideas from high minimalism: Polansky is one of the most versatile algorithmic composers, often using his own software inventions. Byron started out with some idiosyncratic “spacey” non-pulse related clouds of sounds and has become a rigorous modal moto perpetuo composer of a non-down beat variety. In fact in both Larry Polansky’s Three Pieces for Two Pianos and Michael Byron’s Book of Horizons (for piano solo) met in a kindred world of non-pulsed, two (or more in Polansky)-part counterpoint, rhapsodic, stretching toward but never reaching a cadential moment. They’ve been friends since they met in Toronto in the mid-1970’s. Christian Wolff’s Exercise 20 (Acres of Clams) was also played brilliantly by Nonkin and Kubera. Piano in a world of Internet and virtuality? Think again about what’s important. The object, the piano object, the former center of classical music composition, is back, never left, always inspiring new work. Larry links up to Jim Tenney. Michael seems sui generis to me, but at one time was part of the California minimalist scene, as was Peter Garland and a host of others, a master of it was Harold Budd. Sunset seems a fitting atmospheric, a tonal, sometimes romantic use of harmony put in new repetitive structures, not at all formalist, as was Steve Reich. And on and on. Try an adjective, or an analytic: “not-New York.” That was then.

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