andPlay: Playlist

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andPlay: Playlist

Ashkan BehzadiCrescita Plastica; David Bird – Bezier; Apocrypha; Clara Iannotta – Limun

andPlay is Maya Bennardo: vn and Hannah Levinson: va

In a rather audacious complaint, pianist and contemporary composer Thomas Larcher once posited that to him, the piano’s natural sound was “of something  worn out, obsolete, at a dead-end” and said that this led to his desire to attempt to resuscitate it through a wholly new “sound” through his work need never apply to violinist Maya Bennardo and violist Hannah Levinson performing as andPlay. The string duo has simply re-invented the sound of their instruments – played separately and in harmony with each other. They have, of course, had the benefit of being given a leg up by three brazen composers who have imagined what this “newly invented sound” would be like once music was created out of it.

But creating dissonance and stringing up discordant notes into musically acceptable phrases on paper is no guarantee that such precocious imaginings would work in practice. Interpreting it successfully not one – it appears – but at least twice by this duo is the other – missing – piece. And so, positioning themselves in creative conflict with age-old protocols about how string instruments should be played, and dispensing with travelling a naturally well-worn road Miss Bennardo and Miss Levinson have chiseled their performances into something provocative and unique on this repertoire on Playlist.

Throwing out the dead and, in Mr Larcher’s words that which seems “worn out” and “obsolete” the duo ends up throwing overboard melodic, structural and harmonic hooks that have become expressively blunted by overuse and built music from what might – or might not – be left. In doing just so, the duo has enabled the brave new worlds of Ashkan Behzadi, David Bird and Clara Iannotta to come to life not in the musical traditions that we expect but with a new definition of beauty central to their new artistic credo.

With those composers, then, Miss Bennardo and Miss Levinson argue against the “beauty” of overly perfumed, audience-ingratiating beauty typical of commercial music and in favour of “authentic beauty”. This often evokes the German word Geräusch – meaning noise, but in a sense of natural noise such as perhaps the wind blowing through trees or representative of an icy dulled chill in the scenario of a narrative to shepherd these works without compromising their newly declared elementally “beautiful” sound-world.

Released – 2019
Label – New Focus Recordings (fcr 233)
Runtime – 48:04

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