Jean Hasse

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LABELS: Visible Music
WORKS: Kinkh; Pocket Pieces; Four Bits for Piano; Pulling
PERFORMER: Jean Hasse (piano, flute), Martin Opršál, Petr Hladík, Radek Tomášek, Dalibor Nemec (perc), David Matthews (voice)
CATALOGUE NO: VM-CD 101 (available from
The American composer Jean Hasse here presents her own work principally on the piano but also on the flute, with a percussion ensemble and even with the voice of composer David Matthews. She has a distinctive compositional voice herself, complemented by her strong piano playing. It’s rhythmic but hypnotic, including, for instance, lots of open fourths, tone clusters (try the second piece, Silk Water), wide space between clear, intertwining lines, lots of long, echoey pedalling, and a beautiful use of silence which, in the opening piece Kinkh is used every bit as rhythmically as the notes. Influences are many and varied, from Earle Brown to contemporary jazz, and certain timbres are reminiscent of medieval sounds. The ideas are both simple and strong, well worked-out and engaging to the ear, as in Tremolo Piece, for ‘pianos’, which builds up harmonies slowly in an unchanging but ever-richer texture. The short pieces which complete the disc range in length from just eight seconds to no more than two and a half minutes. According to the booklet notes, they are to be published in a series of graded volumes for children or adults: an excellent prospect, as their variety of approaches and quirky titles (‘Scrambled Eggs on Butter’, ‘Walk Up One, Walk Down Two’, etc) will be enjoyed and there is an unquenchable need for original, high-quality material for this market. Jessica Duchen