Lois Svard

With and Without Memory

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This CD contains three beautiful and intelligent performances by pianist Lois Svard, all premieres of new works. "Blue" Gene Tyranny's Nocturne With And Without Memory describes events and memories of events that resonate from the day into evening, the time of the nocturne. The first section displays "dexterity of form and execution at the service of ... improvisational daydreams, [and an] effervescent tonal palette" (Mike Silverton, Fanfare); the last two sections rework this material through loose retrograde and "glyph," a cloud of available notes and articulations used independently of their emotional expression. Svard plays this piece with considerable charm, and makes it "the one work that could be grasped without a verbal road map" (Elisbet Wayne, Berkshire Eagle). William Duckworth's lovely nine Imaginary Dances vary between gamelan-like flowing rhythms, Satie-like introspective melodies, hints of jazz ballads, and dramatic piano music based on Indian ragas, with some reminiscences of Duckworth's well-known Time Curve Preludes. But the changing tunings that remind the listener of these different musics are still united in their direct and simple unfolding, which Svard emphasizes with her clear approach. This is music that is both familiar and unique enough to be pleasantly disturbing. Robert Ashley's hypnotic Van Cao's Meditation is one of his rare solo instrumental works; it was inspired by a photograph in National Geographic of the composer Van Cao, creator of the North Vietnamese national anthem and of cabaret music before the Vietnam war, seated next to one of the two grand pianos in Vietnam. Unable to visit the composer, Ashley imagined Van Cao improvising ad humming to himself. He chose five pitches which re-cycle in different order, duration and register in a kind of sustained mobile, with sectional statements or thoughts distinguished by a single A flat tone. This lasts for a splendid 38minutes.