I knew it had been a while since I attended a Piano Spheres recital. Afterwards I checked and discovered it had been six years! What's wrong with me? One of the best music events L.A. offers, and I don't even go. Even if I don’t care for the music, it's good simply to take in the atmosphere: always the perfect combination of earnestness and unpretentiousness.
This recital was an especially instructive one for me to attend. Nic Gerpe is a prodigious and attractive pianist, but the theme of his program--boundlessness, the infinite, the sublime--was challenging. The musical evocations of this theme in the first part were so well chosen that I had trouble telling them apart.
No matter. I had come for the second half: George Crumb’s Makrokosmos I suite for amplified piano. I had heard about it, but never heard it performed. Gerpe's performance was heroic. Two of the twelve sections were unforgettable.
Number six, Night Spell, required Gerpe to whistle over into the amplified soundboard. This was just the apex of many delicious, eerie moments produced by the amplification system. It also meant that all the non-traditional playing techniques--the plucked strings, struck frame, and shouting into the soundboard, etc. …--actually generated audible effects (and the loud points were delirious).
The other section--Number 11, Dream Images--features, a “gentle caress of a faintly remembered music”—as its subtitle explicitly announces. The delicate irony pierced the surrounding grandiloquence and bombast, clearing a space for a welcomingly human moment.
[Image: Manuscript for section 8 of Makrokosmos I (George Crumb, 1972)]