Three pianists playing at the same time: Can any good come from such megalomania? Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Onnen Bock, and Armin Metz, known together as Qluster, are out to prove that yes, indeed, something great can happen. The trio’s album Taster shows exactly what three pianos can do for minimalist modern classical music.
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Here is the next part in the latest incarnation of the newest musical odyssey initiated by German multimusical poly-being Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who has Qlustered together with a man known as Onnen Bock since 2010. Discogs tells us that Bock is “a qualified musician” which is reassuring. Only the best for our Hans.
This time, the Qluster’s mass builds to 3, with bassist Armin Metz joining them, but there’s no bass here, just 3 Steinway pianos. 3 pianos? Self-indulgent bollox, right? Not fully, no. They’re played in a sort of reduced, sparse way, in a sort of contemporary classical style but all nice harmonies and friendly tinkles. Together, the 3 of them layer up some steadily looping cross-rhythms (inviting the inevitable comparisons to Reich, Glass and Cage) with each player occasionally breaking off to play a longer ponderous phrase, crossing the boundary from organised to freeform.
The trouble is, it barely changes from this format of cautious, unfurling tinkling. Even the scales that they use remain relatively constant throughout. At times they use some subtly prepared piano techniques to alter the timbre but it’s as if they didn’t fully commit to making it a feature. But other than that, it’s a very nice piece of piano, piano and more piano.
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