Saturday, November 20, 2010



Quatre etudes de rythme - Messiaen - Martin Zehn

Developing a principled vocabulary. Strict, severe, earnest.
Sun's Golden Hits - Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Carl Mann, Charlie Rich, Bill Justis
String quartet in c op. 110 - Shostakovich - Fitzwilliam SQ

We meet as survivors on this stricken plain.
       We dance the tunes we are given.
              We rage and weep into voided space.
                    We circle back.

Life Christmas Treasury (ca. 1965)

Mantra II - Stockhausen - Aloys Kontarsky/Alfons Kontarsky

Stockhausen's Mantra I and Mantra II don't gel for me. The sound world created by the pitch/rhythm structure overpowers the sound world created by the modulations. The addition of new instruments seems like a failed attempt to launch the pig. It could just be that I am hearing it on a poorly transferred tape of a noisy phonograph. Even so, these strike me as not-so-interestingly wrecked piano duos. I end up wishing I could just hear the piano parts straight.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - Hovhaness - Seattle SO/Schwartz/Michael York

Surface without features - background without purpose - following the dictates of an impenetrably personal mythos - empty. I really do keep trying with Hovhaness, but so far I just don't get it.


Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt, and Neal Meyer at the Chapel Performance Space - Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Three Bagatelles - Keyt - Keith Eisenbrey, piano
Foliage - Keyt
Blood and Fire Hallelujah - Eisenbrey - Keith Eisenbrey, piano
Gradus: for Fux, Tesla, and Milo the Wrestler - Meyer - Neal Meyer piano

First of all I want to extend some big "Thank yous":
to Neal for arranging this concert,
to Steve Peters and the Wayward Music Festival for allowing the use of the space and instrument,
to Cristina Valdes for having the piano tuned,
and to Moe Provenchal and her assistant Amy for the sound design and recording.

Aaron's intricately delicate Bagatelles are a pleasure to perform. Though they are not difficult in the Lisztian manner they present a challenge not unlike constructing a house of cards in a tight space. Any stray movements and the whole thing could fall apart. I loved the tin-foil sound world of Foliage, though since I had just performed, and was just about to perform, I was unfortunately distracted and don't have a good sense of what the piece does.

This performance version of Blood and Fire Hallelujah consisted of my 31' mix played over speakers while I improvised on the piano. The underlying theatrical conceit was "piano concerto". Since I was engaged onstage I don't yet have a clear idea of how it went or came across or even really what it is, so I'll just throw some facts in. The mix on the CD was constructed from recordings of percussion instruments and my multi-tracked performance of William Cowper's hymn Western Melody. I sang the arrangement found in a 1953 shape note hymnal "The Old School Hymnal No. 9". The title comes from a Salvation Army book-plate found in a 19th Century family diary.

My thoughts during this hour-long performance of 3 rungs from Gradus centered on the theatrical aspect. From the back of the hall the lines and knobbiness of Neal's face, reminiscent of drawings by Goya, backed by black curtains, set off by his dark clothing, fairly glowed in the stage light, as though transported. I especially loved one long moment several minutes in duration in which Neal remained perfectly still, his arm suspended above the keyboard at just the apex, neither just having been released from the keyboard, nor about to sink back in.

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