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Reinhold Friedl - Mutanza
CD: Bocian Records, bc 11 / Bô³t Records BR 1012; 2012

1. Guero (Helmut Lachenmann)
2. Epitaff (Reinhold Friedl)
3. Music in Fifths (Philip Glass)
4. An American Dream (Mario Bertoncini)
5. Mutanza (Witold Szalonek)
6. Music for Piano with Magnetic Strings (Alvin Lucier)
7. Pan Fried 11 (Phill Niblock)

co-released with Bô³t Records

This CD presents compositions for piano using the instrument in an unorthodox way. The strings are bowed with nylon strings, stimulated by E-Bows, rubbed with metal, the keys' sound is examined as a corrugated surface and staccato rhythms are repeated in a narrow register. On the one hand, the pieces introduced here explore new ways of playing the piano. In this sense they are "enlarged playing techniques", as they have been developed for most instruments in the second half of the twentieth century. On the other hand, the works confine themselves to selected material and raise the question to what extent the material already is the composition. To me, it seems less interesting to answer this question, which can hardly be answered unambiguously than to observe that the development of the present music was substantially inspired by electronic music. Mario Bertoncini has expressed this, Helmut Lachenmann has introduced the concept of a "musique concrete instrumentale", Phill Niblocks' loop-like composed music was inspired by the interference between his Harley Davidson and a droning truck ascending the serpentines of the Rocky Mountains. The present CD is a homage to electronic music and moreover, it documents attempts to clear out a gentrified piece of furniture and technically, to catapult the piano into the present.
(–) Reinhold Friedl
På skivan Mutanza, utgiven på det polska bolaget Bocian Records, spelar Friedl ytterligare en av sina egna kompositioner, "Epitaff" (1996), som mer renodlat laborerar med idén om ett "sjungande" piano och som jag tycker hör till något av det starkaste han hittills har skrivit. De körliknande ljud jag hörde på Inside Piano får här sitt klargörande, då Friedl i sin text förklarar att de uppkommer genom en teknik han hämtat från Bertoncini där han använder järnrör av olika dimensioner som stråkar. Huvuddelen av skivan består annars av moderna klassiker inom det preparerade fältet: Lachenmanns "Guerro" (1969/1988), Bertoncinis magistrala "An American Dream" (1974), Szaloneks "Mutanza" (1974) och Luciers e-bow-stycke "Music for Piano and Magnetic Strings" (1996). Här finns också ekvilibristiska nummer som Glass' "Music in Five Parts" (1969) samt ett specialskrivet stycke av Phill Niblock, "Pan Fried 11" (2003).

Styckena är valda med omsorg och det är tydligt att det finns en didaktisk, indirekt historieskrivning i urvalet. Mutanza är också alldeles ypperlig som ett slags komplement till det omfattande verket Inside Piano (det har också släppts en version på LP med tre stycken som inte finns med på cd:n), där Friedls originalitet avtecknar sig och ger mig verklig inspiration till att lyssna till pianots möjligheter och enorma akustiska potentialer. För den som tycker sig ha hört allt rekommenderas här Niblocks "Pan Fried 11" för "Bertoncini Wheels" (motordrivna gummihjul) och massiva anstrykningar av stål- och järnrör. Fullständigt otroligt.

(–) Johan Redin, Sound of Music
Perhaps best known as the man behind the Zeitkratzer Ensemble, Reinhold Friedl performs also solo, on the piano (just as he plays with Zeitkratzer). Here he has a new CD of solo piano music, but then of a more unorthodox way, as he mentions it on the cover. Maybe if you hear Philip Glass' 'Music In Fifths' you may not agree, as this is a straight forward minimal piano piece, but of course there is something mechanical about it. But then in the other pieces things are pretty unorthodox, like in 'Mutanza' (composed by Witold Szalonek) which use the inside of the piano, to be played with all sorts of objects, or the two different ways of making drone like music on the piano, in two different ways, 'Music For Piano With Magnetic Strings' (by Alvin Lucier) which is carefully building sine waves with ebows and the loud 'Pan Fried II' (by Phill Niblock) which is machine like loud. Also in his own composition 'Epitaff' he uses external elements to play the inside - the strings - of the piano in quite a loud way - think an acoustic Merzbow piece. All in all a fine release which shows the various ways of playing piano in a different way. Not just for those who like modern classical music, but also if you like modern drone music.

(–) Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
An utterly wonderful repertoire release by Friedl, concentrating on works that, in his mind, use the instrument in an unorthodox manner. First up is Helmut Lachenmann's "Guero", originally composed in 1969 and, inspired by the percussion instrument the guiro, consisting of sounds made by sliding one's fingernails over various portions of the piano exclusive of the strings. A 19784 revision added two plucked notes at the very end and they are delicious indeed, as is the rendition here, recorded at close enough range to amplify what was originally a very quiet piece. This is followed by Friedl's own "Epitaff" (1996) where an iron pipe is used as a bowing device on the strings resulting in incredible masses of sound, very "choir-like" as Friedl points out. Both of these works are quite sensual, setting the stage for what follows.
The wild card here is Glass' "Music in Fifths" (1969). Friedl justifies the inclusion in that the severe limitations Glass imposes on note range and lack of pedaling qualify as unorthodox".Listeners may disagree and, of course, Glass has fallen into some disfavor among any contemporary audiences (with good reason) but if, like me, you still derive a true thrill from his music up to (and including, in my case) "Einstein on the Beach", you'll love this reading and, moreover, it makes for a giddy waypoint during the course of the program.
But it's back into the churning maelstrom with "An American Dream", a 1974 work by Mario Bertoncini, a composer new to me. He developed a motorized wheel "made of gum" (I'm wondering if the term "gum" is a misleading translation) that generates tones analagous to bowing. The piece is rather monolithic, but impressive for its brief stay. Witold Szalonek's "Mutanza" (1972) begins with more delicacy, a plinking series of tones from the inside of the piano, small splashes and scurryings, before erupting into a more vigorous, agitated state. I many ways, this is the most "traditional" piece here, one that conforms more to other activity from the 60s in terms of general shape and inflection, possibly less satisfying because of that.
Nothing like a dose of Lucier to cure that and his "Music for Piano with Magnetic Strings" (1996) does the job. So pure and yet contain so much life and grit. Drone-based musicians can learn so much from Lucier, the master. Phill Niblock's "Pan Fried II" (2003) takes us out and returns us to the rich, thrumming zone glimpsed in the Friedl and Bertoncini scores. The technique is apparently realized with a plastic cord tied to a piano string, which is then "bowed with rosin-coated fingers" but, damn, you could have fooled me. I wouldn't have thought it possible, with that approach, to generate the canyon of sound as heard here. It's a beast and, as Partch said about his Blo-Boy, it does exactly one thing but that one thing it does superbly.
One of the most enjoyable albums I've heard this year. Hear it.

(–) Brian Olewnick, Just Outside