The genesis of Das Wohlpräparierte Klavier goes back to 5 October 2012 when Dutch pianist John Snijders was making the necessary arrangements for an evening performance at a private house in London. The concert featured a single work for prepared piano: Sonatas and Interludes (1948) by John Cage.
The long and laborious process of preparing the piano was captured on camera and made into a documentary film by the British artist Adam Barker-Mill. Das Wohlpräparierte Klavier functions as incidental music for his video, somewhat in the spirit of Schönberg's opus 34: Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene.
The sounds on the video interact with those played live by the musicians. The music consists of four equally long sections, each exploring textures based on four consecutive fundamental pitches: C-A-G-E. We mainly hear ornamental overtones, but also sudden eruptions that are synchronized with the images.
photo: Piano Men by Vasco Morelli
video, (alto)flute, (bass)clarinet, violin, cello & piano
22 September 2019
Orgelpark, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
At the Purcell Room, the Ives Ensemble […] presented an evening of mostly recent music by Richard Rijnvos (b.1964). [His] three works, very distinct, attested an ingenious musical mind. Riflesso sul tasto, for three players (2007) and Riflesso sullo spazio, for seven players (2019) are respectively the first and latest of his series of constructive "reflections" on 20th-century classics. The first, 14 minutes long, is a commentary on Stockhausen's "Refrain" (1959) and deploys the same tintinnabulatory trio of vibraphone/glockenspiel, celesta and piano to felicitous, vigorous effect. The second was a 40-minute, darker, rather minimalist study on Schoenberg's Op 29 "Suite" for clarinets, strings and piano – and unusual septet scoring, now endowed with a completely new character. In between was a still more minimalist reflection, not part of the so-titled series, called "Das Wohlpräparierte Klavier" (2018): an 18-minute accompaniment, for five players, to Adam Barker-Mills video of the ensemble's pianist-founder, John Snijders, laboriously 'preparing' a piano with nuts and bolts for a performance of John Cage's "Sonatas and Interludes". We were in truly experimental territory here, the music consisting somewhat nebulously of tones and overtones drawn from the letter-pitches of Cage's name.
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 10 November 2019