This CD, released in December 2002, culls the fruits of 25 years of experimentation with the mensuration canon. Each piece features four voices entering in canon form, each voice going through its line faster than the previous so that all four voices finish at the same time. To this centuries-old principle of time compression, Larry Polansky adds an extra rule where each voice goes through a permutational cycle of a small number of musical elements. Four-Voice Canons presents 16 of these works. The oldest ("No. 4"), was written in 1978-1979; the freshest ("Nos. 14," "16," "17," and "18") were completed in the summer of 2002 for this album. Variations in instruments (or sound sources in some cases) and the instrumentalists' dynamics, ranges, tones, and textures ensure that each piece has its own identity. Yet by the tenth track, the listener "gets the picture." It's time to hit the stop button and come back later. Some of these pieces have seen the light of day elsewhere ("No. 10: Four Boys Mannin'" on the Frog Peak Collaborations Project, "No. 8: Nerve Canon" on Transforms: The Nerve Events Project), but it was a good idea to put them all together. Highlights include William Winant's delicate marimba in "No. 4," Polansky's own fretless guitar playing in the intimate "No. 17: Guitar Canon," the self-explanatory "No. 14: Kid Canon," and the three different realizations of the composer's open score for "No. 13: DIY Canon" by Daniel Goode, Nick Didkovsky, and Nathan Davis. This album makes a slightly dry listen when taken in one gulp, but each piece has its fascinating quirks.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture
Headphone Canon for Ross Hendler (Realization of Larry Polansky's Four-Voice Canon No. 13 "DIY Canon")
On Skin, Wood, Metal, and Stone, for percussion (Realization of Larry Polansky's Four-Voice Canon No. 13 "DIY Canon")