Almost all of Greek composer Philippakopoulos' recorded works to date have been for piano and this, his fifth release on Edition Wandelweiser, is no exception. Three pieces, a very deep set of compositions, in two or three parts each trenchantly performed by the brilliant Serbian pianist, Teodora Stepančić.
Philippakopoulos' music tends toward the soft and lambent, the single notes or chords left hanging in space for a while, allowed to mix there and evaporate into the room. There's generally only the faintest trace of any overt structure though there are enough subtle iterations to imply form of some sort. "piano 1" (1992) is slightly probing and questioning, even tentative, with echoes of Feldman in the second section's gently rising notes, though a couple of sharply struck high notes perhaps provide reason for the earlier caution. The last part consists of a series of steady, dark chords that grow increasingly intense before subsiding in a melancholic manner — quite lovely all around.
"piano 2" (1992 / revised 2002), opens with a regularly struck note, tolling like a drop of water falling from a hidden eave. Interspersed with delightful irregularity, we hear other tones — higher notes and lower chords — flitting through, as though a bird or winged insect is traversing the scene. Gorgeously meditative while always holding an openness to the (slightly) unexpected. The second part slows things down further, a periodic chord repeated but with a long space between iterations, sometimes closely followed, sometimes closely preceded by an ancillary note or two, like a small object seen in orbit around another as the viewer moves; a complicated but spare dance and a very beautiful one.
"piano 3" (1994 / revised 1997) begins with a brighter chord, again allowed to linger before being repeated, preceded by a Tilbury-esque arpeggio. Brighter, yes, but again wary and, as the work progresses, increasingly thoughtful and perhaps troubled. Part two is pensive, a series of four notes, varied each time, as always left suspended, gently questioning. After about two minutes of somber music, the listener is taken aback by a series of loud, jagged chords (hinted at in the first piece); in context, they sound almost revelatory, a startling discovery, perhaps, after the prior self-evaluation.
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