|Robyn Schulkowsky, percussion
with Frederic Rzewski, piano; Joey Baron, percussion; Kim Kashkashian, viola; Reinhold Friedrich, trumpet; Rohan de Saram, cello; Christian Wolff, melodica
Christian Wolff's is a spare, prosaic music, with little interest in straining after sonic novelty. Recalling the memorable title of philosopher David Rothenberg's book on improvisation, we can hear in Wolff a "sudden music" of emergent simultaneities, where both intuitive and fortuitous moments are bathed in an eternity of timelessness.
But what does this kind of music offer us right now?
To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, it offers us freedom-if we can keep it.
Since 1987 I have been making duos for percussion with another instrument. The first was a memorial piece for Morton Feldman, For Morty, in 1987, with piano. Then in 1990 Rosas, commissioned for the pianist Marianne Schroeder and the percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky. A few years later I met Robyn and began a working association with her that has now been ongoing for eighteen years. Apart from a series of solo pieces, there have been duos, with viola (for Robyn and Kim Kashkashian), Violist and Percussionist (1996); with trumpet (for Reinhold Friedrich), Pulse (1998); with cello (Rohan de Saram), One Coat of Paint (2004) - the title of a John Ashbery poem; and most recently (2012) For a Medley (a duo of percussionists, with Joey Baron). There is in addition a recent shorter duo with melodica, written for myself to play with her, Duo 7 (2007).
The thread is percussion and the remarkable and distinctive playing and musicality of Schulkowsky, but also the other musicians, all of whom have extensive association with her and are of course of special distinction themselves. The whole set, which now extends over 25 years, reflects my compositional trajectory over that time, and provides a series of exceptional, indeed, for me, ideal performances.