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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Erdem Helvacioglu, Eleven Short Stories, for Prepared Piano

Ever since John Cage's "Sonatas and Interludes" and selected other works, the prepared piano has been a part of the modern concert music landscape. Lately especially there seems to be a surgence of compositions for the altered piano.

One of the very best is Erdem Helvacioglu's Eleven Short Stories (Innova 245), an 11-part suite for the instrument that includes various sequences for the conventional sounding of the prepared piano plus a variety of inside-the-piano playing techniques.

The music is less of the percussion-orchestra-in-a-box that Cage so brilliantly favored in his Sonatas, and more a meditation on sound color, a soundscape for the instrument with evocatively quiescent soundings that relate to the Satie-Cage-Crumb exotic-lyrical lineage, as the work nicely establishes Helvacioglu's contribution to that general line of musical thinking.

And as the press sheet notes, there is a mutual resonance between the instrument's possibilities, the composer's sensibilities and his Turkish roots.

It's music for a rainy day, a sunny day, a brown study. The suite's titles suggest a series of short stories that make the music a kind of soundtrack for life's experiences. Your life's experiences, if you open yourself up to the music.

An excellent diversion that succeeds on a purely musical level as it forwards sound poetry of rich associations.

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