Irmin Schmidt

5 Klavierstücke


Dec 20, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On his latest solo work, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt (a founding member of experimental legends Can) takes a compositionally unfettered approach to his instruments of choice. The 5 Klavierstücke, or "5 Piano Pieces," are played on Schmidt's two grand pianos, one of which is prepared as taught by John Cage, and the other unprepared. In the album's press release, Schmidt described these creations as unedited, spontaneous meditations. "They are formed from an emotional memory in which Schubert, Cage, Japan (Gagaku), and Can are equally present," he explained. Ambient sounds recorded around Schmidt's studio are also incorporated into the pieces, with no other instruments or electronics.

The album's five recordings are titled by their number, with "I" being largely driven by piano musings framed by an occasional pounding of strings. For "II," considerable use is made of ambient sounds, with Schmidt seeming to reimagine his prepared piano as a percussive instrument.

Schmidt takes such control of his pianos on "III" that anyone might understandably believe that he was using a range of instruments not unlike those devised by composer Harry Partch. For this freely amelodic creation, Schmidt picks and bangs at his strings, building a creeping atmosphere of tension as he goes. The result is a prime example of how Schmidt is no more bound by musical convention on 5 Klavierstücke than he is creatively restricted by the sole use of a pair of instruments. (

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