RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

CD Feature/ Anthony Pateras: "Chasms"

img  Tobias

It will be interesting to observe how this piece will be placed in the debate on the prepared piano. As if such an instrument existed! The prepared piano is a collective term, an excuse for journalists to deprive their readers of detailed information, it is a myth and an absconding apparition, which gets more opaque the more one tries to squeeze it into a frame. There is certainly a tradition of adjacent approaches, starting with Cage and Ligeti and reaching well into the new millenium and Anthony Pateras openly touches upon it in his humble and honest liner notes. But the entire point of the exercise is to be able to do personal things with a previously standardised object – and as such each approach is as unique as its preparation techniques.

Even though he doesn’t reveal the secrets to the latter subject, Pateras is quite open about his aims. In his prepared piano study, the instrument is to create the illusion of “more than one player”, to build different layers of perception, each one with its own meaning and importance and to add a virtuoso element to the music, something usually absent from contemporary art. The performance aspect can of course only be guessed at with merely the digital representation of “chasms” available, even though the disturbingly rattling and nervously hastening sequences in the opening movement deserved some respect even if they had been glued together with protools. This is merely an academical mindgame, though, because of course they haven't: In concerts all over Europe and the USA (Patera’s site mentions “a cellar in Lisbon, a train workshop in Wagga Wagga, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, and an old ballroom in Berlin”), the composer has proved his capacity of transferring the score to the stage. And it has to be said: The album delivers on its main intentions impressively. The music sounds like a fully-fledged gammelan orchestra, the cowbell philharmonics, a bycicle bell ensemble, a Tibetan Chamber Music project or a foamed plastic drill crew on a Sunday morning and hardly ever like a man sitting calmly behind his piano. Because different registers are awarded different manipulations, there is an outward appearance of various resonating textures rubbing against each other – resulting in an impression of timbral plenitude and a larger performance group.

Next to this goal, there is another facet to the work. On many occasions, especially in the slower middle segment, one is treated to sounds of great depth and space, which contrast with dry, marimba-like chords (or are they single notes?). On an uninitiated listen, these are immediately and unconsciously categorised as being “electronic”. It is only after studying the booklet that certainty about their true nature is established. Pateras has recognised that there is a certain undervaluation and underestimation of the acoustic possibilities of traditional instruments and his effort delivers a powerful statement in defence of the organic. Ignoring its long-steeped tradition, we’d like to hear more of this particular prepared piano.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Anthony Pateras
Homepage: Sirr Ecords

Related articles

India Czajkowska: Cosmospir
The combination of classicaly trained ...
Anthony Pateras: Tours with The Necks
After releasing two new albums ...
CD Feature/ Janek Schaefer: "Alone at Last" & "Extended Play"
Schaefer has long put his ...
CD Feature/ Yevgeny Sudbin: "Scriabin"
A mystery, a madman and ...
CD Feature/ Catherine Gordeladze: "Hommage a Haydn"
Cycles of unusual brevity: The ...
CD Feature/ Pedro Carneiro: "Improbable Transgressions"
A work of dialogues: Carneiro’s ...
CD Feature/ Dino Ciani: "Mozart - Piano Concertos No. 20 & 25"
The James Dean of Classical ...
CD Feature/ Lauma Skride: "Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel - The Year"
Lauma remains lucid and on ...
CD Feature/ Oksana Kolesnikova: "Free Floating"
Some of the greatest pieces ...
CD Feature/ Oksana Kolesnikova: "Oksana"
You may disagree with what ...
CD Feature/ Paul Moravec: "The Time Gallery"
A concept work which doesn't ...
CD Feature/ Iiro Rantala: "Piano Concerto"
Wild mood swings! An emotional ...
CD Feature/ Duo Hammel - Sanchez: "176 Keys to Europe"
Roars through the cobweb-filled ruins ...

Partner sites