Peter Garland

Peter Garland: Love Songs

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Peter Garland's soft-edged, quasi-minimalist music is sometimes described as "romantic," because his open lyricism, simple modes, and pretty timbres play on emotions and summon sentimental responses from some listeners. Yet if Garland's pan-diatonic harmonies, short cell motives, and bland instrumentation are considered with some detachment, he seems much less romantic, even in the loosest sense, and more properly associated with some new age instrumental styles. Garland's music may be enjoyable in small doses, but this 2005 disc from Tzadik goes on too long, even at the short running time of 46 minutes. Coyote's Bones (Last Piece) (2001), Matachin Dances (1981), and Love Songs (1993) are innocuous and mildly appealing for their folk-ish melodies and serene moods, but the lack of any real tension and resolution, or of any high and low points, makes these pieces seem flat, uninvolving, and ultimately unmemorable. Percussionist William Winant, violinists David Abel, Carla Kihlstedt, Roy Malan, and Timb Harris, and pianists Julie Steinberg and Heather Heise are mellow and quite subdued in these performances, which is all the music requires. Tzadik's sound is surprisingly loud for such laid-back performances, so watch the volume.

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