I find the implication that there are “ears” everywhere, at every point in a world, a fascinating concept, even if it is rather hard to imagine. It implies that position might be more important than time in hearing; and that the sounding configuration of a world can be understood (differently) from an infinite number of points. It says that what is audible to any one person is unique, but at the same time contiguous (and therefore directly related) to what is audible to others.—Michael Pisaro
On Tuesday, March 25, Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt is presenting a particularly choice recital at Spectrum, the Lower East Side loft that quickly has become a research & development epicenter for locals as well as a hospitable beachhead for visitors. Van Houdt, pianist for the acclaimed Ives Ensemble and Ensemble MAE, calls his program "The Well-Extended Piano." In addition to music by Luc Ferrari, Peter Adriaansz and Alvin Curran, it includes an important piece by Wandelweiser composer Michael Pisaro, Fields Have Ears 1.
You can hear a bit of that piece, a 20-minute composition for piano and four-channel playback (field recordings, sine tones and noise) from 2008, in the YouTube embed at the top of this page, posted by the English label Another Timbre to promote its wonderful recording by Philip Thomas. You should also read Pisaro's essay about the piece, and about the series of related works that emerged subsequently, on his Gravity Wave label blog.
Van Houdt's recital is at 8:45pm, but real conoisseurs will want to turn up for the evening's early set: at 7:30pm, International Contemporary Ensemble pianist Jacob Greenberg will play Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat (Op. 110) and Helmut Lachenmann's Serynade. That's quite the long view of pianistic modernism if you take in the whole evening, as I intend to do.
I'd be remiss if I failed to mention a second event happening next week. On Thursday, March 27, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn will introduce a new piece by Catherine Lamb, a violist and composer whose music I've greatly admired on discs released by Another Timbre and Engraved Glass; through a fantastic free download from the Absence of Wax netlabel; and in a Roulette concert by the French chamber group ensemble dedalus last year.
Lamb isn't a Wandelweiser Group member per se, but her aesthetic is clearly sympathetic. She studied with Pisaro and James Tenney at CalArts, and now lives and works in Berlin, where among other activities she performs with violinist/composer Johnny Chang in a duo devoted to the music of Viola Torros.
"String Theories," presented by the SOB and Issue Project Room at Roulette (got that straight?), will include the premiere of Lamb's portions transparent/opaque: 1. Expand alongside three more works that should be well worth hearing, by Eli Keszler (casing, duct, stack), Zach Layton (k…y…r…i…e…) and Doron Sadja (Pillars of Light).
Sadly, I can't make it. If you go, give ’em my regards.