William Duckworth

The Time Curve Preludes (1982): Books 1 and 2, Preludes 1-24

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The Time Curve Preludes has long been cited as one of the first examples of post-minimalist piano music and it's easy to hear why. While certain repetitive elements are present in a fashion that hadn't existed before the work of Reich, Glass, and others, there are also overt influences from other composers and genres that are taboo in the strict minimalist canon. Notable among these would be the music of Erik Satie heard in the melancholy sweetness and plangent beauty of a number of the sections herein. But one also picks up hints of medieval music, American folk forms, and gospel, among others. There are certain similarities to the work of British composer Howard Skempton in the subtle knottiness of apparently simple melodies, and one even thinks of the piano improvisations of Keith Jarrett, though far more restrained and sans pathos. The preludes vary in mood and pace but are almost all poignantly attractive, even lush, and are lovingly played by Neely Bruce. If there's any quality lacking, it might be that of an authoritative personal stamp, a "Duckworth-ness" that would distinguish his voice from others who increasingly plowed these furrows in ensuing years. But that self-effacing stance may have been one of his goals and shouldn't keep the listener from enjoying a volume of highly accessible, seductively enticing contemporary piano music.

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