In our increasingly transnational times, Paul Moravec manages to define his own firmly grounded space amidst a musical scene that can often feel frenetic. Moravec�s work in many ways builds upon �The Great Tradition� of Western Europe, reconfiguring some of its bedrock gestures into an aesthetic that is thoroughly of our day. Dubbed a �New Tonalist� by critic Terry Teachout, Moravec writes with depth but does so with a light touch. He draws on craftsmanship so virtuosic it seems easy. All this adds up to a composer who is simultaneously learned and accessible, tradition-based and imaginative, profound and a heck of a lot of fun. In an era when pundits worry over the fate of the concert world as a whole, Moravec�s music�and its deep-down integrity�speak of confidence and hope.
The Time Gallery, a chamber work in four movements, is among the latest installments in Moravec�s rapidly growing opus. A �meditation,� as the composer puts it, on various aspects of time, whether temporal duration, clocks, or human pulse, The Time Gallery also approaches �time� in the historical sense, glancing back to the Middle Ages, with the pealing of bells at sunrise in a Benedictine monastery, and the Baroque, with the revered B.A.C.H. motive. All this is refracted in the final movement, Overtime: Memory Sings, where the past is �reinvented�. Is this the present? The future? A metaphor for Moravec�s musical style?
In lesser hands, �time� could yield a rigid construct�a vice-grip of repetition, but in The Time Gallery it transcends the motoric. This is vital time, alternatively ruminative, mysterious, blissful, energetically propulsive. Interestingly, in our post-9/11 era of terrorist threats, The Time Gallery speaks of optimism, embracing life. Yet it is hard to go anywhere near the subject of �time� without contemplating the finiteness of existence. Moravec writes at a historical moment of fear and political extremism, an era when, as a civic body, we worry that perhaps our time is borrowed. �The paradox of time,� says the composer, �is that it is at once the creator and the destroyer of all things. I try to make beautiful music, which, while acknowledging the tragic, ultimately celebrates the joyous and affirmative. Time is the medium of music and love is its spirit.�
Moravec�s Protean Fantasy and Ariel Fantasy, two recent works for violin and piano, round off the disc. Both, like The Time Gallery, have a compelling inner energy. The sumptuous Protean Fantasy begins ruminatively, then kicks off into a virtuosic thriller. Ariel Fantasy, which passes in a dazzling blink, has motoric intensity from the getgo, jutting at times toward the frenetic, at others toward the crystalline and cascading. It has a visceral intensity that speaks to the listener urgently, directly.
Carol J. Oja
ReviewsAmerican composer Paul Moravec, who won the Pulitzer Prize last year for his vivacious and evocative Tempest Fantasy," has been enjoying a surge of attention. He writes music that is tuneful, ebullient and wonderfully energetic, with a rich, burbly surface overlaid on a darker and more contemplative foundation. "The Time Gallery," an extended sextet performed with pizzazz and tenderness by the formidable new-music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, offers four movements tuned to various time-keepers -- church bells, clocks, a pulse -- that then pursue an invigorating course. At nearly 45 minutes, the piece is long-winded, but the rhetoric is so ingratiating and the melodic invention so fertile that it's hard to complain. Completing the disc are two alluring fantasy duets, splendidly played by violinist Peter Sheppard-Skaerved and pianist Aaron Shorr." - Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, April 2006