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Asia Piano Avantgarde - Indonesia / Schleiermacher


Release Date: 01/24/2006 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog #: 6131322   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Paul Gutama SoegijoSlamet Abdul SjukurMichael AsmaraSoe Tjen Marching,   ... 
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews





I hope I may be excused for never having heard this music before, nor having heard of any of these composers. This collection is pretty far from the beaten track, but that is the beauty of a company like MDG, which is prepared to back an artist with broad tastes and boundless curiosity. Pianist Steffen Schleiermacher specializes in the contemporary repertoire—he has recorded at least 10 CDs of Cage’s piano music—and here he embarks on a journey into Asia. (There is no indication that this is the first of a series, but the generic title would suggest it is.) Our Western sense of Indonesian music begins and ends with the gamelan, where the act of composition is Read more traditionally collective rather than individual, but that is a limiting notion: there are composers in Indonesia, same as everywhere else, and the sound of their music is not necessarily location specific. Some of the above composers studied in Europe, with Blacher (in the case of Paul Soegijo) and Dutilleux (in the case of Slamet A. Sjukur), and bring that background to bear on their national roots to produce a unique, often dissonant language. These works are not simple exotica. It seems to me that an Asian sensibility comes through most strongly in the feeling of time suspended; of musical motifs growing organically at their own pace, undisturbed by human concerns. (One gets a similar sense from the piano music of Takemitsu.)


There are three generations represented here: Soegijo and Sjukur are around 70, Michael Asmara was born in 1956, Dody Satya Ekagustiman in 1961, and Soe Tjen Marching in 1971. Sjukur’s Svara is one of the selections I found most interesting. At 17 minutes, it is a quiet, contemplative work, built around the chiming of a single tone in the keyboard’s middle register, eventually joined by the minor third above. These “chimes” occur seemingly at random as if driven by a breeze, with no hint of any underlying pulse until the very end when the struck note settles into a regular rhythm, then abruptly ceases. Soft chords reminiscent of Messiaen add a gentle harmonic haze. (Rain began to fall outside my window as I listened, which seemed perfectly apt.) This kind of writing requires from the pianist a hypersensitive touch plus an ability to think in long paragraphs, both of which Schleiermacher provides.


Soe Tjen Marching’s Kenang (2002) makes use of avant-garde techniques such as plucking strings, rubbing the bass strings, and extended use of the sustaining pedal. This piece also exhibits the timelessness mentioned above, although it is very sparse in terms of incident. In fact, Ekagustiman’s Langendria is the only work here with any rhythmic drive. Ekagustiman was brought up in the culture of traditional Sudanese music, and the dance informs his short study from 1997.


Not all this music is gripping or free from the charge of doodling, but merely to have it available is worthwhile. Sjukur in particular strikes me as a major voice. The composers could not find a more sensitive champion than Schleiermacher and MDG’s sound is, as ever, above reproach.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1. Klavierstudie by Paul Gutama Soegijo
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; Berlin, Germany 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 9 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 
2. Svara by Slamet Abdul Sjukur
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Indonesia 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 17 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 
3. A Piece for Piano no 10 by Michael Asmara
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Indonesia 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 
4. A Little Piece for Pianoforte by Michael Asmara
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; Indonesia 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 
5. Kenang by Soe Tjen Marching
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Melbourne, Australia 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 12 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 
6. Yu Taha by Slamet Abdul Sjukur
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; Indonesia 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 14 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 
7. Langendria by Dody Satya Ekagustdiman
Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
Venue:  Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen 
Length: 7 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen (03/15/2004 - 03/17/2004) 

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