Christian Wolff - Early Piano Music

After the fragmentation and dissociation of elemens in the earlier works, Wolff here suggests, tentitively and meticulously, how sounds might be picked up and strung together again in new ways. The movement of the music is towards melody in its largest sense...this may not always be obvious, but then the times are not conducive to easy optimism." - Michael Parsons, 2002. 

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John Tilbury / piano

Christian Wolff / piano

Eddie Prévost / percussion

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Tracklisting:

1. For Prepared Piano - 1951 - 1:54
2. For Prepared Piano - 1951 ii - 1:51
3. For Prepared Piano - 1951 iii - 1:37
4. For Prepared Piano - 1951 iv - 1:51
5. For Piano l - 1952 - 7:08
6. For Piano ll - 1953 - 10:32
7. Suite (1) -1954 i - 3:19
8. Suite (1) -1954 ii - 1:53
9. Suite (1) -1954 iii - 2:15
10. For Piano with Preparations -1957 i - 3:43
11. For Piano with Preparations -1957 ii - 1:32
12. For Piano with Preparations -1957 iii - 3:55
13. For Pianist - 1959 - 12.15
14. Duo for Pianists I - 1957 - 4:11
15. Duo for Pianists II - 1958 - 11:05
16. Duet I (or piano four hands) - 1960 - 7:23
17. Trio II (for piano four hands and percussion) - 1961 - 15:39

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Recorded at Gateway Studios, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England by Steve Lowe. Front cover by Tristram Wolff. 

Available as a 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC download.  

Eddie Prévost

Eddie Prévost began his life in music as a jazz drummer. A recurring interest in this form has been maintained, although always with an experimental ethos. Along the way he has maintained his fifty-year plus experimental credentials with AMM and numerous other improvisation projects, including his now twenty-year long weekly workshop. But drumming has generally been backgrounded to his experimental percussion work. More though, is to be expected of his drumming in 2020 on forthcoming multi-CD album: The Unexpected Alchemy. A part of this Krakow festival recording features the drums and saxophone trio of Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, and Eddie Prévost. His most recent released recordings include AMM’s: An Unintended Legacy, and a duo with John Butcher - Visionary Fantasies, both on Matchless Recordings. Also, a solo percussion LP on the Earshots label called Matching Mix. Later, in 2020 he meets with Jason Yarde and Nathan Moore, while in March concerts and recording will hear him drumming with US guitarist Henry Kaiser and saxophonist Binker Golding.

And, early 2020 should see the publication of his fourth book: An Uncommon Music for the Common Man: a polemical memoir.

“Prévost's free drumming flows superbly making use of his formidable technique. It’s as though there has never been an Elvin Jones or Max Roach.” - Melody Maker

“Relentlessly innovative yet full of swing and fire.” – Morning Star

John Tilbury

John Tilbury is renowned for his peerless interpretation of the piano music of Morton Feldman, John Cage, Christian Wolff and Howard Skempton. In addition to the performances and seminal recordings that he has made of these composers’ works, he has been an eloquent advocate of their music in his writing and speaking about them. The same is true of the attention he has paid to the music and ideas of Cornelius Cardew, the subject of his authoritative biography published in 2008, and with whom he played in the legendary improvisation groups the Scratch Orchestra and AMM. In the last ten years John Tilbury has performed a range of plays and prose pieces by Samuel Beckett.

Video by Helen Petts

Christian Wolff

Christian Wolff emerged in the 1950s on the New York experimental music scene and became a prominent champion of the aesthetics of musical indeterminism. His works, which became increasingly explicit in their political content as his career progressed, stress choice, artistic co-operation and interdependence, and an accommodating attitude toward the potential relationships between music, sound and silence. Wolff studied classics and comparative literature at Harvard University. Though active as a pianist and electric guitarist throughout his career, he was largely self-taught as a composer, and from the beginning his works relied more on careful aesthetic design than compositional “craft” in the traditional sense. Although his works of the 1950s already conveyed a decidedly “democratic” subtext, with their reliance on freedom and reaction (“parliamentary participation”), they did so through traditional notation and sometimes invoked, however obscurely, traditional forms. The flexibility of their realisations owed to Cage’s influence, while their sparse surfaces recalled Webern, and in some cases resonated with La Monte Young’s early works. His compositions from the late 1950s and 1960s placed increased effort on real-time cooperation between performers, who worked somewhat freely, within certain set parameters (set durations with unspecified pitches, for example), but were required to alter their performative decisions consequent to each other’s actions. Later works turned inwards to more specifically musical topics, perhaps due in part to Wolff’s somewhat self-effacing assessment of the composer’s role. As he observed in a 1991 interview: “Most political music, paradoxically enough, is for the converted; it’s an instrument of cohesion for a group that already knows what it wants.” – Jeremy Grimshaw, Allmusic