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Tis the season for the duration of time

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 24 December 2017

After four weeks away, when The Sound Barrier was in the amazing hands of Evan Carr and Adrian Meade, and I was in Kürten, the earthly centre of the Stockhausen universe, I will be returning this coming Sunday night with another, and rather timely, edition of the show.

At 10 PM til midnight (AEDT), this weekend's show will, of course, see in Christmas Day. It's a day that is not always as much fun for everyone that the commercial messages surrounding it suggest it should be, so I thought I would mark the occasion, if occasion it be, with a recognition of something that tends to be perhaps an even more ubiquitous part of the Christmas period than the seemingly mandatory jollity and goodwill to all mankind: an awareness of the passing of time. We think about it in the inevitable discussions about how quickly this time of year has come around yet again, about how quickly our lives are passing before us, sometimes without us really knowing why or how we are living them. It can be an alarming time for a lot of people.

So, on this week's edition of The Sound Barrier I am going to be bringing you a piece that gives us a different insight into the passing of time – a more contemplative perspective, a perspective that reminds us that time passes in its own way, at its own pace, and that perhaps the most valuable way of all to deal with that is to sit back and hear it, to allow ourselves to sink into the pace at which it moves, and to let it take us with it. To listen to the passing of time.

The piece is, of course, by Stockhausen. It is called NATÜRLICHE DAUERN (NATURAL DURATIONS), a set of 24 pieces for solo piano, the third part of Stockhausen's final musical cycle, KLANG (SOUND).

I will be bringing you a selection of pieces from NATÜRLICHE DAUERN, as well as an interview with one of the very few pianists to take on this huge and extraordinary work, Duccio Beverini, in an interview that I recorded with him while in Kürten. I'll be playing some of Duccio's own performances, including one of the pieces that he played at Kürten, especially for The Sound Barrier. Duiccio explains and demonstrates how NATÜRLICHE DAUERN works musically, how it examines the role of duration in music, as well as talking about what all of this offers both for performers and audiences – a divide that in many ways breaks down in this piece, where the role of the pianist as listener is vitally integrated into the role of player.

I hope you can join me this Sunday night at 10 PM (AEDT) on PBS, where you can listen locally at 106.7 on Melbourne's FM band or PBS Digital, or from anywhere in the world, live via the PBS app or here on the website. The show is also available to listen back to, as an audio archive, shortly after it has gone to air.

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