02/16/16 – New York, NY – Recitation Tomb (3 baritones and 2 perc.)
PREMIERE – Elebash Recital Hall at the GC – Ensemble C4 and The Curiosity Cabinet
Perry Townsend, Brian Mountford, David See; baritones
Ellery Trafford, Joe Tucker; percussion
Martha Sullivan; conductor
Ezra Pound’s poem The Tomb at Akr Caar depicts the presence of a soul or perhaps the perspective of time. The quality of isolation and suppression found in this poem struck me as fit for homogeneous musical ensembles, especially whereby two groups are at odds with one another while attempting to fuse at the same time. This piece is also a response to Georges Aphergis’ Recitations for solo voice, and utilizes rhythmic material from Recitations eleven and fourteen as well as pitched material from Recitation four. Accumulation of these materials (for instance the pyramid shape of Recitation eleven) is further pronounced, in Recitation Tomb by a slowly descending series of dyads throughout the first part of the piece, effectively burying the vocal range in the low register. Pound’s poem deals with aspects of decay, in such a way that a reading of his poem isn’t much different from running one’s fingers along the remains of hieroglyphs from an unearthed tomb, in an attempt to decipher the words in greater detail. Here bits and pieces of text have fallen to the ground, the voices pass the words around in fragments, although following the original linear arc of Pound’s poem a sense of decoding these cryptic words permeates this setting. The feeling of accumulation in Aphergis’ Recitations is here reconfigured and fragmented, whereby a simplicity of pitch and timbre attribute to a static yet accumulating development through which the voices are affectively “buried” in a tomb themselves.