Tempus Perfectum (1998)
Duration: 8 min.
Recording: Toccata TOCC0469
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Tempus perfectum is a term from the late medieval period that referred to the rhythmic metre designated today by the time signature 9/8. It indicates a meter of three beats per bar, each of which is subdivided into three smaller units. Rosner’s Tempus Perfectum, composed in 1998, is a modern adaptation of the instrumental canzona, a genre that existed—with evolving meanings—for centuries. The point of departure for this piece is the type of canzona that flourished in Italy during the late Renaissance, and so the connections between Rosner’s style and early music are clearly evident here. Not surprisingly, Tempus Perfectum maintains a 9/8 meter virtually throughout, as the canzona theme pursues its course in a neo-late-Renaissance manner. What is most unusual are sequences of triads—often in a different tonality from the canzona theme—that are superimposed over that theme at various points during the piece. These harmonic sequences, although written so as to conform to the 9/8 meter, audibly contradict it, as well as conflicting with the tonality. These harmonic sequences follow a course of their own, as each reappearance is successively longer and more fully orchestrated, until a climax of sorts is reached, after which the music diminishes in volume and speed. (Notes by Walter Simmons)