A Musico-Historical Artifact...
Sébastien Melmoth | Hôtel d'Alsace, PARIS | 10/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
Mechanical piano--sometimes called "pianola," or "player piano"--is a techne which débuted prior to the turn-of-the-century, but really caught on between the Wars.
Withal, most of the compositions on this curious disc date from the 1920s. The works were written exclusively for pianola: that is, they were not written into score, but directly into piano roll. Too, the music--(which reflects Cubism, Dada, and Machine Esthetic)--as written specifically for mechanical piano, cannot be played by human hands.
As pianola engineer Jürgen Hocker says, "Breathtaking speeds, stirring chromatic glissandos, monumental chordal structures exploiting the entire keyboard, complicated rhythms and complex, sometimes irrational metres and tempos, whispered cloudlets of sound and violent cascades of notes--these were the so far unheard(-of) possibilities that the development of the player piano opened up to adventurous composers at the beginning of the 20th Century."
Paul Hindemith says, "The advantages of the apparatus lie merely in its absolute unambiguity, its clarity, purity and utter precision."
Ernst Toch urged, "[I]t is music FOR a mechanical instrument; it is composed in the spirit of the instrument."
Realized on a period instrument--a 1927 Bösendorfer Grand with Ampico Player Piano Mechanism--the music on this disc represents a primary source musico-historical artifact: remarkable.
See too: Memories of You . Classic Ragtime from Rare Piano Rolls . Blues and Stomps from Rare Piano Rolls . Classic Jazz from Rare Piano Rolls