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CD Feature/ Paul Moravec: "The Time Gallery"

img  Tobias

As the whole world seems to speed up, time is suddenly becoming more than just a scarce resource - it is turning into an enemy. Which makes it an ideal subject for the arts, who have always had a liking to the inescapable and its impact on the human condition. “Time, time, time, see what’s become of me”, Simon and Garfunkel lamented and their denouncement of fugacity echoes the regret of the business man in search of meaning and those poor souls in the “springtime of their life”. Paul Moravec’s “Time Gallery”, meanwhile, does not join in the sad chorus.

Instead, it sets out to explore the history of time as a concept and the many different ways it can be perceived. So, the “Gallery” begins with the bells of medieaval monks, which were among the earliest methods of structuring the day, then turns to the first primitive watches and follows their development until the present-day radioactive clock. The floating awareness of the natural senses was slowly but surely replaced by a more mechanical and rigid system, which, by its premises, is bound to disintegrate into a state of supposed chaos. Opposed to this is the human pulse, or what Moravec calls “the feelings of what happens”, the inner pendulum, which swings at the rate of the heart. All of these pass the listener by in four thematically arranged movements. A concept work, therefore, but not one which puts the idea before the music. The composer’s notes in the booklet serve as an interesting aside, but the music firmly works without the use of words. The violin is the melodic master, the piano its congenial companion and a carefully selected group of accompanying instruments fills the void that envelops them: A spooky vibraphone, disembodied and dreamy flutes, powerful percussions and transcendental bells. While the overall mood is one of contemplation, it is the unity of bipolar elements that gives “The Time Gallery” an unmistakable air and a sense of urgency: Hectic, breathless passages are set against moments of ethereal quietude, lonesome reveries meet full-bodied tutti and cacaphony breeds romantic harmony. Time dilution, surprise, surprise, it’s all over the place.

This may not even have been the prime intent here – after all, Britney Spears and Madonna acchieve the same in four minutes. Rather, it’s the idea that time could move similar to the metrum of music, which lingers in the backyard of this densely composed work and which makes it stand out from similar meditations. With this in mind, growing old may not seem like an unbearable burden, but rather like the pinacle of carefuly constructed supension arc Time may be speeding up, but at least it’s leading to a grand finale.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Paul Moravec
Homepage: Naxos Records

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