Tuesday, 30 July 2013

BRISTOL PROMS: InsideOut – Hauschka with Rod Maclachlan

#BRISTOLPROMS





When German pianist Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann) prepares a piano, he really prepares it. I am used to Cage's carefully positioned pins and Satie's simple sheets of paper. The Old Vic's grand was laden with foam packaging, bubble wrap, strips of ribbon, the odd small wooden drum, beer bottle top hi hats, mirrors, ping pong balls and even a tambourine. All were strategically placed to add layers of new sounds and textures to a set of minimalist improvisations. 

In this brilliant late night prom (we took our seats at 10:15pm) Hauschka demonstrated the unusual sound combinations that come from placing items over piano strings and under the foot pedals. Small ball bearings danced on glass discs as he spread minor chords across semi-quaver passages, and ping pong balls jumped across syncopated rhythms. Whilst being extremely well controlled and carefully thought out, this was an exercise in indeterminacy. The resulting sounds often lay at the hand of chance. Indeed, some objects were placed in approximate positions, rather than fixed ones, and were free to move from pitch to pitch. The pianist captured a nice balance between planning and spontaneity, I think. 

Tonight Hauschka was joined by artist Rod Maclachlan who drove a robotic camera to create a stunning video of the piano's prepared interior whilst the music was played. It was brilliantly atmospheric and he achieved something that wasn't too literal. Instead, images were merged and delayed across one another, and the result was beautiful to watch.

In the penultimate piece, Hauschka dramatically stripped the piano bare of objects, leaving a trail of debris. It was striking to hear the piano back in its natural state before the finale. For the finale simple strips of duct tape were applied at approximate intervals and a hypnotising soundscape ensued for an atmospheric end to the concert.

All in all, it was a brilliant evening. The Bristol Proms is aiming to take classical music to new audiences. The week-long celebration of music is taking place at Bristol's Old Vic theatre for a start – the idea is that it is a more intimate and welcoming venue than a large concert hall. Core repertoire is being performed with visual and digital elements to encourage a fresh approach to high art music. The roster of top musicians that the festival has lined up is impressive and the enthusiasm is palpable. It is definitely worth a visit.

Hauschka at #BRISTOLPROMS | Photo: Gobinder Jhitta/Classic FM

Hauschka at #BRISTOLPROMS | Photo: Gobinder Jhitta/Classic FM
Hauschka at #BRISTOLPROMS | Photo: Gobinder Jhitta/Classic FM







Bristol Proms runs until Saturday 3rd August. Click HERE for event details.
Visit: bristololdvic.org.uk


4 comments:

  1. Fascinating photos of the piano interior. Reminds me of the Tim Walker "Story Teller" photos on Ben Pentreath's wonderful blog! Are you a relative? I look forward to exploring here.

    Cheers!

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    1. Yes, Ben a relative of mine – I am a fan of his blog too! I went to see the Tim Walker Story Teller exhibition when it was at Somerset House. Such an incredible photographer. Thanks for reading, x

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  2. Rosie stunning photos and this looks/sounds amazing. Am going to share off the page if that's ok XXXX

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    1. No problem, share away! The photos are great aren't they – not me this time! Bristol Proms is very cool x

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