Corcoran New Music Festival: Yarn/Wire performs The Winter Journey

Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
500 17th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

This concert pairs an avant-garde masterpiece with a new work which echoes its colors and moods and history, but with a distinct voice and commitment to narrative. Makrokosmos III, Music for a Summer Evening (1974), scored for two amplified pianos and percussion, continues Crumb’s Zodiacal, mystical, reference and quotation, as well as his extraordinary capacity to manipulate color and texture. Douglas Boyce’s The Winter Journey (2018) draws on Crumb’s timbral palate and delicacy of form, but over the course of eight tableau, considers not the cosmos through the mystical, but rather the mystery of human finitude and frailty.

Boyce’s work draws inspiration from a minor masterpiece of 20th century literature, George Perec’s “The Winter Journey.” Not quite scholarship and not quite magical fabulism, the story recounts the sad tale of a young scholar who finds the key to modern literature, a lost book seemingly the source and inspiration of every major French poet from Rimbaud to Mallarmé. Over the course of eight tableaux the narrative is re-presented through textures and color: the scholar Vernier’s arrival; the discovery in the library; the intervention of war and return and loss; the search for the text. These tableaux are woven together through quotation, reference and recapitulation — Debussy, Ravel, Crumb and, of course, Schubert arrive and dissolve between delicate percussion and ferocious pianistic virtuosity.

Yarn/Wire is a quartet of two percussionists and two pianists. This instrumental combination allows the ensemble flexibility to slip effortlessly between classics of the repertoire and modern works that continue to forge new boundaries. The ensemble consists of GW Professor Ning Yu, piano; Ian Antonio, percussion; Laura Barger, piano; and Russell Greenberg, percussion.

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