Continents of City and Love and Tidal, written 20 years apart, are both arch-form pieces scored for two pianos, synthesizer, string quartet, and double bass. They both feature expanding piano lines that intersect and compliment individually expanding textures provided by the strings and synthesizer. Continents cycles slowly through four harmonic areas via a sort of structural counterpoint, achieving a finely knit fabric of understated sensuality. Tidal combines strictly notated music with measured improvisation.
Evaporated Pleasure is a fiery work for piano, four hands. Composed from an equal-tempered approximation of the harmonic and sub-harmonic series and multiple corrupted stochastic processes, it starts out almost hesitantly and builds to a wild, swirling barrage. The same duo (Cahill and Kubera) that performs it on this CD gave both its West Coast (San Francisco) and East Coast (New York) premieres in 2002.
Awakening at the Inn of the Birds, written for the FLUX Quartet, commissioned by the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts, Dartmouth College, is built from sets of rhythmic units that continuously change and develop. Using the instruments’ extreme dynamic levels throughout, the piece remains at a point of stasis. With its very first note, the music jumps out at the listener, and it remains there relentless to its conclusion.
As She Sleeps is a quiet, ruminative piano solo, a song without words, dedicated to Michael Byron’s daughter.
Michael Byron’s music has been commissioned and performed by chamber groups around the world. As a performer, Byron has been a member of various new music and experimental improvisation ensembles with such other composer/performers as David Rosenboom, Peter Garland, and William Winant. Byron also has been a member of the American Gamelan ensemble Son of Lion. He has taught at York University and served on the Board of Directors of the Aesthetic Research Centre of Canada, where he edited the first issue of Journal of Experimental Aesthetics. He was the editor/publisher of Pieces, a series of books of music scores by influential contemporary American composers. Byron has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the Canada Council for the Arts, and he has had his music recorded on the Cold Blue label (including releases CB0002, CB0005, CB0008, and CB0043) and the Neutral label.
“The music flows elegantly, charged with an intriguing power, thoughtful, sometimes even evocative of the twilight…. We are in a land on the frontiers of minimalism and virtuosity.” —All About Jazz (Italy)
“Performed by highly skilled musicians (in this case, pianist Sarah Cahill and the FLUX Quartet), Michael Byron’s music exemplifies what the label’s roster is envisioning. This New Yorker can paint large-scale harmonic monochromes that get close to Gavin Bryars’s best works (Continents of City and Love, Tidal), but he also composes much more dynamic pieces that strike a perfect balance between mechanistic madness and brilliant virtuosity (the clashing pianos in Evaporated Pleasure, the repetitive stanzas in Awakening at the Inn of the Birds). As for the naked piano of As She Sleeps, it would feel right at home on one of Sylvain Chauveau’s albums.” —Richard Robert, Les Inrockuptibles (France)