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David Lang follows his highly-acclaimed Cantaloupe debut, The Passing Measures, with this major new work for seven musicians. Child is a powerful meditation on childhood and memory - sweet and simple on the surface, gentle musical fragments float by leaving faint traces of darkness in their wake. The result is at once dramatic, personal, intensely introspective, and piercingly beautiful.
Written in five separate parts for some of Europe's finest groups, Child is recorded here by the Italian ensemble Sentierri Selvaggi.
"Boldly realized - snakes its intriguing way over varied emotional turf, with melancholic irresolution in the mix. Sheer musical energy and spiritual inquiry hover over the proceedings."
-Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times
David Lang on the concept of Child
In the space of one month in 1999, by some strange coincidence, I received five commissions for almost the same instrumentation. The prospect of writing five practically identical pieces in a row seemed uninviting to me, so I came up with the idea of organizing these pieces around common themes, shared materials, and unorthodox doublings, such as having a flutist or violist play percussion. I was then able to link these pieces, as movements in a larger work. The larger work is called Child.
Child is my attempt to examine certain experiences as I remember (and misremember) them from my childhood. Each of the individual movements is in some way a memory of how I learned how to do something. Because I was taught (as most children are) that one learns how to perceive the world by making up rules it has been possible to apply these rules to musical environments.
I am not nostalgic for childhood, mine or anyone else's. It is not a point of Child to show either how childhood is a time of great excitement or great disturbance, or that I miss it or that I suffered through it. What is most interesting to me, especially now that I have children of my own, is that childhood is the time when one learns how to think, how to feel, how to move forward. Because each piece of music in some way needs to teach its listener its own rules for how it works, it is a comparison I have found meaningful.