In March, Trio Mazzolini performed Tom Coult’s 2011 Piano Trio “The Choronophage” as part of the Royal Academy of Music’s series of streamed events. The trio – and world premieres from Augusta Read Thomas and Ryan Wigglesworth – can be heard here.
Acceleration, deceleration, and the inconsistent nature of time are at the heart of this 17-minute work. Cello and piano lines constantly speed up or slow down relative to one another, whilst the violin has only one role – to accelerate throughout. The listener feels clunky gear changes, as previously reliable demarcations of time seem unsteady – even unsafe. The trio’s subtitle comes from The Corpus Clock in Cambridge, a clock that plays with exactly this perception. Completely accurate every five minutes, the clock lurches unevenly from second to second, the grinding mechanism driven by the terrifying metal insect escapement known as the ‘Chronophage’ (from the Greek meaning ‘time-eater’).