Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ramin Arjomand: A Singular Contemporary Pianist-Improviser

Last night I heard an evening of improvisation by a young pianist whose description of his work might easily be mistaken for mine.  We have in common many concerns, among them, the vital link between language and music, and between vocal and instrumental composition.  Add to that our shared passion for improvisatory as opposed to "formal" composition.  We are, it would seem, closely related artistically speaking.

Yet we are also miles apart.  First of all, he has dazzling technique of a kind of which I cannot even begin to dream: such speed, agility, range of motion both spatially and dynamically, octaves, trills, tremolos--stamina and to spare.  It felt as though I was listening to a reincarnation of Liszt in this 80 minute improvisation.  (He says that people describe his work as a cross between Scriabin and Cecil Taylor.)

I came away exhausted but engaged.  He had succeeded in doing some things to which I aspire in my playing and in my programming, most specifically, leading attention to the specific resonance of all-white keys, then altering that resonance by the addition of one black key at a time.  He accomplished all this within an essentially non-tonal framework.

The main thing that separates us is that, being young, he lives in a louder world than I do.  In order to get the audience to hear what he wants them to hear he engulfs them in quantities of sound that feel like "too much" to me.  I prefer to go the opposite route to achieve that result.

Go hear him if you get a chance: Ramin Arjomand.