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Time Regained

piano solo, 3(picc)3(eh)3(bcl)3 4331 t,p(2),hp,str
1/9/2008 - 5/20/2008
James Levine and Peter Serkin
Metropolitan Opera

My title, borrowed from the end of Proust’s great novel, shows the essence of this work: it concerns memory, music’s memory of a part of its past, as well as my own memory of some of the composers and works that have been my companions and inspirations over many years, my memory of their meanings as I conceived them when I first encountered them.  My sources here are from Machaut, Matteo da Perugia, Du Fay, and Orlando Gibbons – and thus span above two hundred fifty years of musical history and development.  In the course of arranging, intercutting, re-composing and redefining, I have tried to make the sources my own, and this attempt pre-empts any question of “authenticity”.  Thus there are occasions which feature large departures from the ever-evolving diatonicism that one would expect of more than two centuries.  The most notable of these is the introduction to Part III, which hovers in a twilight between diatonicsm and chromaticism.

Original performance practice, original purpose, original aesthetics, and so on – none of these enter my consideration.  Only the raw musical data count. And these data are passed through a medium – solo piano with large modern orchestra – which necessarily forces a stripping away of everything but the notes –  which themselves do not escape unchanged.  But I think that this very act of reduction and subsequent amplification can lead one to the moment of a tea-dipped madeleine or an uneven courtyard paving stone, and invoke the “immense edifice of memory”.