Time Passing …

Time Passing …

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for soprano, bass baritone, improvising vocalist, improvising double bass and string ensemble (2012) with Camerata Zurich - leader Igor Karsko

Anja Pöche – soprano
Savina Yannatou – improvising voice
Matthew Brook – bass baritone
Barry Guy – double bass and conductor

Poems by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan and the Irish poet Kerry Hardie as well as Samuel Beckett’s famous “Ping” form the backbone of Barry Guy’s composition Time Passing… The three poets co-exist within a musical framework with an interesting tension between Morgan’s “EPILOGUE:SEVEN DECADES” ( a series of observations of his passing years but with a sharp eye to the future ) and Hardie’s analysis of the minutiae of particular moments in her life which uncannily seem to resonate with the Morgan text suggesting a subconscious narrative. Contrasting this and representing a kind of sine qua non of existence, the Beckett text “Ping” distils and internalizes the sentiments of Hardie and Morgan.

Structurally and almost Sisyphean, six sections of the work climb inexorably towards the apogee where Beckett’s “PING” presents us with an abstract world of contemplation and questioning. Following this, the next section takes us headlong into the twilight years with remembrance (Hardie) tempered by future ( Morgan), the Beckett having seemingly instigated a parting of the ways.

The live recording from the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2013 of this epic composition features the stunning achievement of the three singers Savina Yannatou, Anja Pöche and Matthew Brook as well as bass improvisations by Barry Guy who acted also as conductor of the brilliantly performing Camerata Zurich under the leadership of Igor Karsko.

Guy will be familiar to almost everyone reading this as one of the most important contrabassists in improvised music, and one of the key figures among first generation British free improvisers. Fewer, perhaps, know that Guy is not only classically trained but has regularly performed classical music, ranging from English plainsong to 20th century new music. While one can certainly get a sense of that range from his marvelous large ensemble composing, the voice- focused Time Passing makes his fluency in various idioms even clearer.

With the aid of the fluid, resourceful Camerata Zurich, Guy creates a series of quite compelling and colorful settings for strings. Some of these are linear, others textural, and there is at least some room for improvisation (though Guy does not feature himself, he’s always creative, even in a supporting role). One will hear in his writing echoes of Penderecki, Lutoslawski, perhaps even Grisey. But the music here, accompanied by a hefty libretto, is about interplay between Matthew Brook’s resonant bass-baritone, Anja Pöche’s soprano, and Yannatou’s often unpredictable contributions. Repetition of certain key phrases is effectively used in contrast with the slow-moving, low-end strings Guy favors. Vocalists intone, for example, “Now she lives outside the walls” or “At 20 I got marching orders,” and the suggestive lines make for some evocative, at times unsettling effects. Throughout, the vocalists balance individual and collective emphasis, underscored by Guy’s attention to nuance and dynamics (there are loads of “wow” moments where voices merge with strings, especially in long melismatic or overtone-rich sections). Improv freaks will find themselves more drawn to the open settings of “Part III” or “Glissandi II.” But to my ears the best bits are those which meld the multiple idioms Guy is working with here: in the lonely, affecting “Part V” and the long “Ping,” overflowing with blended, overlapping vocals.

Recommended works: Ode, Improvisations Are Forever Now, Harmos, Fizzles, Odyssey, Inscape – Tableaux, Tarfala, Blue Shroud.

(Jason Bivins , Cadence Magazine)

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Time Passing...

Scharfe hohe Streicherklänge, Stimmen, Glissandi – so beginnt Time passing... von Barry Guy für zwei Sänger, Stimme und Kontrabass als Improvisationssolisten und der Camerata Zürich. Barry Guy komponiert seit Jahrzehnten. Seine Werke für sein Barry Guy (New) Orchestra fügen sich dabei an die Klangwelt und Gestik seines Improvisierens an, sind eindeutig verortet im Umfeld des energetischen Free Jazz. In Kompositionen für Violine, in einigen kammermusikalischen Besetzungen und hier erstmals auch in Kombination mit SängerInnen und Stimme, zeigt sich Barry Guys andere Klangwelt, die stark verwurzelt ist in seiner langjährigen Erfahrung als klassischer Kontrabassist, gerade auch in Barockorchestern. Inspiriert von Johann Christoph Bachs Hochzeitskantate Meine Freundin, du bist schön, entwirft Barry Guy nach Texten von Samuel Beckett, Kerry Hardie und Edwin Morgan einen fiktiven Dialog mit offenem Ende. Belcanto wechselt mit dichter Improvisation von Stimme und Bass, die als zweites Solistenduo die Interaktion von Sopran und Bass immer wieder auch zu kommentieren scheinen. Die Streicher betten das Geschehen ein, leiten über zwischen den konträren Klanglichkeiten der SolistInnen. Im Laufe der Zeit entfernt sich der anfangs abstraktere Klang immer mehr. Es treten ferne Klangwelten in den Vordergrund, Klangwelten, die vor allem in der Streicher- und Stimmbehandlung, immer in Agogik und harmonischen Anleihen (die jedoch meist getrübt und geschärft) an barocke Klanggebung erinnern, bis gar ein Zitat auftaucht, mit dem Barry Guy, es kompositorisch verändernd, arbeitet. Ein lebendiges Musiktheater ohne Bühnenbild.
(pol, Freistil Magazin)