James Erber’s music has been concerned with traces – signs of overwriting, both revealing and concealing what lies beneath – for even longer than the fifteen years spanned by the composition of the main work on this disc. An excavation of his interest both in archaeology as a metaphor for music and in archaeologies of music itself might begin ten years earlier still: with the thirty-year-old Erber, newly arrived in Freiburg, embarking on the composition of Music for 25 Solo Strings (Epitomaria–Glosaria–Commentaria). Read more
That work was, first of all, a “reading-through” of Byrd’s motet Emendemus in melius, making explicit both Erber’s interest in music of the Renaissance and early Baroque and his concern with spiritual and artistic continuity. But its tripartite scheme of source and multiply layered commentary was confirmed by a visit the composer paid while working on the piece to the site of the Roman town of Herculaneum, where he saw the ancient ruin set alongside the present-day settlement of Ercolano, itself consisting of the old town on the cliff and the modern buildings behind it, all three layers visible to varying degrees from a single vantage-point.