Celebrated pianist Håkon Austbø pursues an old dream on this release – he takes on some of the most attractive and complex material that exists within the modernistic music. Armed with a Steinway concert grand and a MIDI trigger for the MAX-patch, Austbø goes after the avant garde.
Pierre Boulez institutionalized aleatoric music in his Troisième Sonate. “I have often compared this work with the plan of a city. One does not change its design, one perceives exactly what it is, and there are different ways of going through it. One can chose one’s own way through it, but there are certain traffic regulations.” Pierre Boulez in: Sonate, que me veux-tu? (1960). Very much inspired by the ideas of John Cage about principles of chance in music, Boulez also brings forth Joyce and Mallarmé as important inspirators. Austbø has taken the natural step further and given each section tracks, so that the listener can make his own route through the city.
If Troisième Sonate represents a historical point in Boulez’ development, Night Fantasies was a turning point in Elliott Carter’s oeuvre.“Night Fantasies is a piano piece of continuously changing moods, suggesting the fleeting thoughts and feelings that pass through the mind during a period of wakefulness at night.” Carter, too, builds up his piece by contrasting episodes, but he himself makes the choice of route through the labyrinth. We are taken into a landscape where fluidity coexists with intensity, flexibility with rigidity. Carter’s Night Fantasies remains a milestone in the piano literature of the 20th century.
In Asbjørn Schaathun’s case, the years around the composition of Physis were decisive in the establishment of his aesthetic. He realised that it was no longer possible to write music based merely on a “feeling” of the material, and started combining the stochastic approach of Xenakis with serial procedures, inspired by Stockhausen. The seven areas of Physis provide a fixed framework, each area consisting of a larger section, played without electronics, followed by smaller ones using electronics. The smaller sections are always interchangeable, the performer choosing the order. The Allegro and Adagio (2010) is described by the composer as a small ‘encore’, and on the disc it also constitutes a link between the avant garde and our own time.