Written between 2015 and 2018 for the acclaimed New York percussion and piano quartet, Yarn/Wire, Alex Mincek’s Images of Duration (In homage to Ellsworth Kelly) is a monumental work by any measure. With a runtime close to one hour, it is not only Mincek’s longest work to date, but also one of his most intriguing. It is scored for two pianos tuned 1/4 tone apart (441 and 428 Hz, respectively) and a vast array of percussion including tuned gongs, air canisters, waterphone, baby monitor, and white-noise machine alongside more traditional instruments like drums, vibraphone, marimba, and chimes. This instrumentation, while wildly varied, creates an ever-changing landscape that is brutal, disorienting, beautiful, meditative, and jarring – often at the same time.
Mincek is interested in how perception changes over time, and the sheer scale of Images of Duration allows for listeners to discover different modes of listening for themselves. The individual movements can function as sonically flat landscapes (like Kelly’s work), but upon deeper listening, the many multiple layers can be teased out and followed, creating an arc across the whole piece. The music traverses movements that range from Oblique’s piano rumble and ebow drones through the sparkling detuned piano passages of Vermillion to violent piano glissandi of Diagonal, all punctuated by massive percussion hits throughout.
Images of Duration (In homage to Ellsworth Kelly) exemplifies Yarn/Wire’s commitment to the most dynamic and forward-looking chamber music made today.