James Fulkerson

James Tenney: Postal Pieces

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Written on postcards between 1965 and 1971, James Tenney's Postal Pieces are intensely focused explorations of sound production, gestures, and forms. These 11 works -- epigrammatically notated but quite extended in performance -- may be described as minimalist music, though with caution. If a comparison can be made, Tenney's minimalism is closer in intention and spirit to Morton Feldman's expansive reiterations than it is to the active pattern music of Steve Reich or Philip Glass. Yet Tenney's uncluttered instrumental music is even more akin to electronic music, of which the composer is also an innovative practitioner. Most of the works, such as the Swell Pieces (3), Beast, Koan, and For Percussion Perhaps, Or...(night) are quiet meditations, in which tones are stretched and massaged over extended time periods. Others, such as Maximusic, A Rose Is a Rose Is a Round, and Having Never Written a Note for Percussion, are startling in their directness and denial of expectations. Longest of all, August Harp lasts for almost 43 minutes, and its spare, ringing tones linger in the mind long after the music ends. The Barton Workshop, directed by James Fulkerson, performs with great concentration, and the recorded sound is sensitive enough to capture the timbres and acoustics so critical to these pieces.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 12:49
2 5:08
3 42:53
blue highlight denotes track pick