Synchronisms No. 9

Curtis Macomber, violin + electronic sounds


In the 1960s, a time when electronic music seemed the only possible future for many composers, Mario Davidovsky was at the forefront of the revolution with his series of Synchronisms for live instruments in combination with pre-recorded electronic sounds created at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Listened to now, nearly two generations later, their weird mix of cerebral angular atonal instrumental music with sci-fi oddness almost feels like listening to a soundtrack of a forgotten time that never quite happened. By the late 70s, Davidovsky himself gave up electronic music and became an outspoken critic of the inhumanity of the machine. Yet, in the late 1980s, he returned using the next generation’s digital technologies to create virtual sonic landscapes of tremendous emotional power. For listeners familiar with his still seminal early Synchronisms (two of the best of which are also featured on this disc in case you’re not), a first encounter with Synchronisms No. 9 from 1988, his first return to the medium, can be somewhat disconcerting. In the intervening years while exploring ways to achieve the impact of his electronic music through solely acoustical means, Davidovsky stumbled on a way to create a work with the emotional resonance of acoustic music which incorporates electronics.


—FJO