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Richard Teilelbaum: Piano Plus

Teilelbaum / Teitelbaum
Release Date: 11/12/2013 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80756   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Frederic RzewskiUrsula OppensRichard TeitelbaumAki Takahashi
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



TEITELBAUM Intersections. 1 SEQ TRANSIT PARAMMERS. 2 _…dal niente… 3. In the Accumulate Mode . 4 Interlude in Pelog 4. Solo for Three Pianos 4 1 Frederic Rzewski (pn); 2 Ursula Opens (pn, Mac Read more with interactive MAX software); 3 Aki Takahashi (pn); Richard Teitelbaum ( 3 computer, 4 Digital Piano System) NEW WORLD 80756 (71:35)


I’ve already “obliquely” introduced Richard Teitelbaum (b.1939) to Fanfare readers, as he was part of the pioneering live collective Musica Elettronica Viva, whose wonderful New World collection I reviewed in 32:6. Teitelbaum has been at the forefront of music technology, exploring different models of real-time interactivity from the get-go: not surprising, considering his involvement with experimental improvisation in the 1960s. Here we get a chance to hear several of his major piano works from 1963–98.


The program begins a little predictably, with a High Modernist serial work, Intersections from the composer’s student days. Frederic Rzewski, one of Teitelbaum’s collaborators in MEV, is the pianist. If the piece sounds similar to a lot of work from the era, it is also well crafted in its quicksilver scrambles and explosions. And any record of Rzewski’s virtuosity is a gift.


The remainder of the disc concentrates on Teitelbaum’s work with interactive computer systems, which process and respond to the input of live keyboard performers (and in Oppens and Takahashi he has two of the best). SEQ TRANSIT PARAMMERS (1998) is the most recent work, and uses MAX software with a Disklavier digital piano to respond to Oppens’s input (as far as I can tell, all sounds are acoustic, both from the live input and the digitally responding keyboard). The result is first overwhelming in its sheer avalanche of notes, yet eventually pares down to quite still and fragile moments; in fact it becomes almost Debussian in its harmonies and motives. …dal niente… (1997) is similarly interactive, though here the sound of the live piano is sent into a computer processing system and its sound is altered in the digital domain. The piece has an exceptional opening, in that the initial sounds are attackless and sustaining, as though E-Bows were being placed on the strings. Later, more traditionally “attacked” sounds emerge, but they are accompanied by “auras” similar to the opening. The effect is as though the piano has a glass harmonic accompaniment.


The piece grows ever more prolix and intense, and this seems in keeping with the premise of its title (translated “from nothing”). At the same time, I started to find this movement from spare to dense (and vice versa) a little taxing, as though the composer felt he had to show always he could do many different things in a single piece. This criticism is answered, though, in the remaining three pieces of the program (all from 1982), each of which enter a very specific sound world and explore it in depth.


In the Accumulate Mode is a constantly overlapping and expansion of live inputted material. I assume it’s canonic, but the result goes far beyond that in its density. One rather feels as though the music is generating harmonic rockslides that endlessly rush over you the listener. Interlude in Pelog uses the Indonesian scale in the title, but again, through superimposition of materials, I hear a certain “bluesiness” emerging. Solo for Three Pianos is the most “neo-minimalist” of the pieces, with its textural fields evolving from demented rag to evaporating mists.


There’s actually great stylistic and expressive range in this music. At times it can sound subtly jazzy, at others like a Nacarrovian cascade, and then like a Feldman still-point. As such it’s a tribute to Teitelbaum’s ability to design systems that can traverse such a spectrum. As a pioneer of composition that involves the collaboration between performer and technology, Teitelbaum’s contribution to the field is significant. And the music is not just a technical/technological experiment; it is highly musical.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1. Intersections by Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Frederic Rzewski (Piano)
2. Seq Transit Parammers by Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Ursula Oppens (Piano)
3. ...dal niente.. by Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Richard Teitelbaum (Computer), Aki Takahashi (Piano)
4. In the Accumulate Mode by Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Richard Teitelbaum (Computer)
5. Interlude in Pelog by Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Richard Teitelbaum (Computer)
6. Solo for Three Pianos by Richard Teitelbaum
Performer:  Richard Teitelbaum (Computer)

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