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Peter Ivan Edwards: Object Lessons

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John Cage liked to pose the question, "Do you love notes, or do you love sound?" American composer Peter Ivan Edwards comes down firmly on the side of sound, and traces the roots of his musical vision to American experimentalists like Cage and European modernists who shifted the focus from harmony to sound itself, and who challenged traditional ideas of musical narrative and development. In the four works recorded here, including pieces for percussion, piano, and guitar that were written between 2004 and 2009, Edwards takes a musical object -- meaning a gesture, a note, or a cluster, for instance -- and examines it from various angles. The recurring use of the objects gives the listener the opportunity to establish a familiarity with them, and that sets this music apart from the kind of modernism that delivers such a relentless overload of information that it can leave listeners in the dust, or simply tuned out. There is plenty going on here, and plenty of musical variety in each piece, but Edwards is successful in creating the sense that a single object, which is constantly being deconstructed and reassembled, is the recognizable basis for the work. This is probably most easily discerned in Carve and Color, virtuosically played by pianist Jongah Yoon. It's also clearly evident in Hareu! Hareu! for solo guitar, which takes as its object a well-known motet by Guillaume de Machaut and is played with great delicacy by Colin McAllister. The sound is clean and vibrant on all of the tracks, but they were recorded in several settings and some volume adjustment may be necessary between tracks.

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