COMPOSERS: Antheil,Casella and Malipiero,Duchamp,Haass,Hindemith,Lopatnikoff,Mánch,Stravinsky,Toch
ALBUM TITLE: Player Piano vol. 4
WORKS: Player Piano works by Stravinsky, Hindemith, Haass, Toch, Münch, Lopatnikoff, Duchamp, Antheil, Casella and Malipiero
CATALOGUE NO: 645 1404-2
The 1920s anti-Romantic zeitgeist inspired a number of adventurous composers to embrace the newly developed player piano in the belief that it represented the most perfect embodiment of their quest for stylistic objectivity. By writing music for a purely mechanical instrument, they were effectively able to assert complete control over their material, determining with absolute precision matters of tempo, articulation and dynamics. Given that the player piano also enabled the realisation of amazing textural possibilities – breathtakingly fast speeds, complex changes of metre and huge chordal passages – one cannot be surprised that some pretty major figures chose to compose works for the instrument.
This fascinating collection brings together for the first time some of the most important contributions, the highlight being George Antheil’s spectacular Ballet Mécanique, here realised in a mesmerizing version for four pianos and eight hands. Pithy works by Stravinsky, Hindemith, Casella and a virtuoso fugue by the lesser-known Hans Haass are also notable landmarks, whilst the material by Marcel Duchamp and Gerhart Münch seems more speculative. Nonetheless, an absolutely essential disc for anyone interested in the more outrageous musical endeavours of the period. Erik Levi