Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Textural Piano Music

Wednesday the 9th of April. Today in the piano seminar the subject was textural music within piano music. I recommend to listen to all of the following composers (if you don’t know them already), for widening your own perspective of music.

Feldman is known for that his music is very quiet and that very small changes  happen within the music. He usually also uses only very few notes. Feldman is supposed to have said “I look for things I like and which I want to hear over and over again”. Today we listened to the piece Triadic melodies.

The Hungarian composer Ligeti wasn’t a pianist (according to him self at least), but his Etudes for piano are very popular (in terms of contemporary music). Every etude bases on a pianistic idea and an rhythmical idea. The basic idea in many of Ligeti’s etudes is that he has two different rhythmical loops of different length, so slowly they grow more and more apart. What I found especially interesting was etude number three, where a few notes are hit silently, and then you play more or less only a cromatic scale, but of course the silently pushed keys don’t sound, so the rhythm turns out to sound quite complicated. What a cool idea!

We looked at the work Piano phase for two pianos (or two marimbas). Although the piece only is two pages long, it lasts for about 20 minutes! The basic idea is very simple, although it is very hard to fulfil: the one pianist stays in tempo the whole time while the second pianist is supposed to do a very very slight accelerando so that he/she at a certain point is a sixteenth note ahead. As I said, very easy to understand but very hard to play.

This Finnish composer from Tampere didn’t compose with rows but instead thought of music in the same way as the painter Wassily Kandinsky thought of art: it consists of dots, lines and surfaces. He wanted to free himself from the abstract 12-tone music and therefore came up with this system. This is of course a thought that can be applied to most music at the end, and it is said that even Meriläinen grew tired of people the whole time trying to find “dots, lines and surfaces” in his music for the rest of his life, because he also developed new compositional techniques after having composed his Second Sonata for piano with this technique. In the seminar also the Fourth Sonata for piano was warmly recommended, especially the recording by Jaana Kärkkäinen.

Former teacher at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (and now teacher at the Sibelius Academy) wrote in 1989 Five Bagatelles for piano which studies of overtones. This piece plays with the timbre of the piano, without that you have to go climbing inside the piano nor having to prepare the piano.

This French composer wrote a Toccata for piano that is based on repetition. Also this piece of music plays with the timbre of the piano in a similar “simple” way as Nuorvala.

Roger Reynolds
This American composer, teaching at the University of California, San Diego, writes  extremely complex music. I have personally never heard any of his music performed, but my teachers told us that he at one time was performed rather frequently also in Finland at a time when he was “in”.

The Austrian composer and conductor of Swiss birth is nowadays teaching at Graz University of Music and Dramatic Arts. Here you can listen to his Phasma for solo piano.

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