Floating in stillness: David Lang’s Wed

There’s a beautiful, hypnotic quality to Wed by American composer David Lang, a solo piano piece that seems to suggest a weightlessness, a free-fall in space from a scene from a science-fiction film like  Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 or Stephen Soderbergh’s Solaris that I can’t quite put my finger on…

David LangRather like a modern Gymnopédie by Satie, the piece seems to walk around an idea, viewing it from several angles and meditating on it in a way that defies the normal passage of time. (Satie famously said ‘Before I start writing a piece, I walk around it several times accompanied by myself.’). Originally written asn incidental music for a production of The Tempest, the bittersweet dissonances pervading the harmonic landscape of the piece seem to convey a sense of uncertainty (perhaps even regret ?) about a marriage vow.

The more muscular side of Lang’s music is shown in Cheating, Lying, Stealing

But there’s a mesmerising, lulling beauty to Wed that has me returning to it often. There’s a live video of a performance at Poisson Rouge, which, if you can forgive the poor ambient noise quality, offers some sense of the piece’s quality.

(Preview tracks via LastFM.)

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