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John Woolrich A Presence of Departed Acts (2002)
Taking its title from Emily Dickinson, 'A Presence of Departed Acts' is the latest in a long line of pieces by John Woolrich that are concerned with acts of remembrance. In the Viola and Cello Concertos for example, memories are evoked through allusion to or quotations of music by other composers. Here the remembered object is pure Woolrich: eleven clangorous piano chords that constitute the melodic and harmonic backbone of the work. By turns sweet and astringent, these chords are fragmented and elaborated in a constantly evolving structure that, in effect, becomes a memory of the work’s beginning. The single-minded rigour of the musical structure supports the wildest fantasy in the instrumental gestures that at any moment can veer between bold assertiveness and withdrawn fragility.
© Christopher Austin
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