Listen with Adventurous Ears

March 2010 • Kate Mead, New Zealand House & Garden

Atoll ACD 309 • The Perilous Night (for prepared piano solo); First DeConstruction: The Perilous Night (for unpreparing piano and electronics); Portrait de Socrate (piano solo transcription); Le piège de Méduse(for paper-prepared piano); Gnossienne IV (simulated quarter-tone piano version); Bacchanale(transcribed for prepared piano duet with Sarah Watkins); Vexations (celesta version). Tzenka Dianova, piano, prepared piano, celesta

On this recording John Cage’s The Perilous Night sounds as if the piano is accompanied by skin and metal percussion instruments, but it’s not. Tzenka Dianova placed objects under, over and through the strings of her Steinway Model D so that certain keys, when depressed, sound akin to a Javanese gamelan orchestra. That’s what  the American composer originally wanted. As a personal response, Dianova and her musical partner, Charlotte Rose, then deconstruct Cage’s original, using the piano in its original state and supplementing electronics. Frenchman Erik Satie is the other composer on Dianova’s debut album. His lush Gnossienne No 4 is glorious. Listen with adventurous ears.