Peter Garland, Solo Piano @ the Stone

by danielgoode

May 12, 2011 10:45:22 PM EDT

Last night, two sets, all his music but for Terry Jennings’ “Winter Sun” (1966), and Michael Byron’s “Song of the Lifting Up of the Head” (1972). Peter, anti-establishment from a very establishment Maine family, transposed to Cal Arts in 1971, was part of the important Southern California minimalist school, mentored by Harold Budd, so gracefully and fully a minimalist himself. David Mahler, Tom Nixon, Jim Fox were some of the others, as a group more “minimalist” —if that has meaning—than anyone else except, arguably, La Monte Young or Philip Corner on the East Coast. Probably “more minimalist” doesn’t have much meaning, let’s scratch it. The Stone is a hard-to-cool, windowless storefront tucked into corner of the Lower East Side, paid for by John Zorn, and curated by a constantly changing bunch. This month it’s been Steve Peters. Next monty it’s Paul Tai of New World Records. Garland was also important in the 70’s and 80’s for his periodical, “Soundings” (subsidized by philanthropist, Betty Freeman) which published a host of important compositions and composers (full disclosure: one piece of mine was published there). With Byron’s “Pieces,” and the trail-blazing 60’s “Source,” these must be remembered as the era of hard-copy, beautifully looking bound objects, continuing a small but crucial tradition going back to Cowell’s “New Music Editions” of the 30’s. Remember these hand-held, caressable things, oh, you Internet mavens of the 21st Century! Unrepeatable, unscanable. So the music was uncompromising, beautiful, simple, resonant, even redolent of a time of ideological fresh air blowing out the dust of a tired Modernism. In the third movement of four commissioned by Sarah Cahill, titled as a whole “After the Wars” (2007-08), Peter hid the attacks of the melody note under a full chord, building up long phrases of such timbrally unique “after-tones”—soft, little magic lights-in-sound, an antidote to the car horns, the drunken catcalls, bangings of all kinds which leak into the avant sound world of the Stone. Thumbnail review.

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