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Agnel, Sophie: Capsizing Moments (Emanem)

Sophie Agnel uses a startling array of objects and techniques in playing inside the prepared piano, demonstrated in these digital concerts recordings from 2008.

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product information:

UPC: 5030243500420

Label: Emanem
Catalog ID: 5004
Squidco Product Code: 11561

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Cardstock 3 page foldover
Digital recordings by Etienne Foyer at Les Instants Chavires in Montreuil, near Paris, November 14, 2008.


Sophie Agnel-solo piano, prepared piano (variable preparations but no electronics)

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Artist Biographies:

"If it's in Paris that Sophie Agnel was born in 1964, it is towards other sounding islands in the heart of a reinvented temporality that she dwells today, at the stern of a grand piano, an instrument that she turns into a real living & vibrating organism.

Classically trained, escaped from jazz (drawn away by the too strict treatment of harmony), Sophie Agnel boards the piano from every sonic angle this musical vessel can offer : keys, strings & board are simultaneously apprehended, in a mixed procedure (as we say of painting techniques) that would be understated if it was reduced to the cagian definition of the prepared piano. Considering the instrument - that she extends with several accessories, paper cups, balls or strings - as a poetic supplier of anamorphic textures, the musician takes it to be an equal match to the wider diversity of musical systems, whatever the craft they where conceived in (from physiological to electro-acoustic) ...

We would then no longer be surprised to notice her understandings with Michel Doneda and to find her to the side of the wet saxophone of Alessandro Bosetti, of the acoustified electric guitar of Olivier Benoit, of the voices of Catherine Jauniaux and Phil Minton, or the keyboard of Christine Wodraska...

The same seal of esthetic evidence marks all of her musical companionships, with this same taste, beyond the narrative, for the delicate sonic quests and blossoming of dimensions to which the auditor takes part through an active listening : in the heart of Jean Pallandre's phonographic worlds, of Jerôme Noetinger & Lionel Marchetti's small scale cinema, John Butcher or Axel Dörner's crimpy tissues, by the lovely machines of Erik M or Ikue Mori, the harmonico-stratospheric rustling of Stéphane Rives...

The originality of the research conducted by Sophie Agnel today leads her to develop, in solo or with significantly chosen companions, a most refined and highly poetic approach to sound that makes each of her concerts a moving construction filled with chiseled musical gestures, a soft and sumptuous irradiation."-Guillaume Tarche

-Sophie Agnel Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. Capsizing Moments Part 1 19:30

2. Capsizing Moments Part 2 8:50

3. Capsizing Moments Part 3 22:35
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"A veritable tour de force of 'inside' prepared piano playing -- preppiano extensif. The whole of a solo set performed at Les Instants Chavires near Paris. Sophie Agnel's preparations, neither static nor fixed, evolve during the course of her playing as she adds, moves or removes an object, or replaces one artefact with another. These preparations include disposable water cups, nylon fishing-line, bouncing balls, aluminum ashtrays, aluminum foil, industrial nylon, inner-tube rubber and polished rock all of which result in a remarkable sound world far removed from that usually associated with the piano. This is her second solo CD -- the first (on Vand'Oeuvre) was made in 2000, and since then she has appeared in several duos and trios with a variety of musicians. 51 minutes."-Emanem

Excerpts from sleeve notes:

"preppiano extensif

To prepare a piano is to place objects or materials in between and on the strings of the instrument in order to alter its sound. The choice of these additions, and their placement, create a personal audio universe unique to each preparation. Sophie Agnel's preparations, neither static nor fixed, evolve during the course of her playing as the pianist adds, moves or removes an object, or replaces one artefact with another. She in fact prefers to speak of the extensive piano. So what are these introduced artefacts? What do these objects, once chosen, do to the sound, to the music, to the piano thus prepared and extended, to the preppiano extensif?

White, breakable, disposable water cups - plastic cracklings, anxieties. Nylon fishing-line - sawn durations, stridencies, alarms. Bouncing balls - prancing capers, cascading trills. Aluminium ashtrays - metallic sputtering, cracklings. This music is evocative, one could describe images born from listening to it. But more profoundly, more concretely, the phenomenon in question is something else.

No metaphor: what is introduced into the piano is plastic made in China, mass-produced aluminium foil, industrial nylon, inner-tube rubber, polished rock: Artefacts, industrial or hand crafted, whose sounds imply their provenance and history. On them is founded a concrete sound-world. This cult instrument of western erudite music, the end-point of high culture and sophistication, is invaded by contemporary pragmatism, manufactured banality, by objects. The indisputable sounds created by this invasion may well preserve their mystery (a blind listener would have trouble discerning just how this music is made). These rumblings, bells, whistles, plastic stridencies, metallic frequencies attest, in the very belly of the piano, to a necessarily contemporary world beyond the piano. The piano is extended into the world. Sophie Agnel puts the world into the piano.

There may never before have been such improvisation on the piano, on the preppiano extensif. One has probably never before lived in such a world..."-Henri Jules Julien

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!
Related Categories of Interest:

EMANEM & psi
Improvised Music
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Piano & Keyboards
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Free Improvisation
Solo Artist Recordings
Electronic Forms
Instruments with Preparations
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