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Joachim Kühn and Michael Wollny
Live at Schloss Elmau

Piano Works IX
Joachim KÜHN (b.1944)

The Colours of the Wind [3:07]
Seawalk [9:25]
Chaconne from Partita by Bach [13:14]¹
Michael WOLLNY (b.1978)
Hexentanz [14:17]²
Elmau [7:47]
Joachim KÜHN (b.1944) and Michael WOLLNY (b.1978)
Encore [5:27]
Joachim Kühn¹ (piano) and Michael Wollny² (piano) – duo performances unless noted
rec. at Schloss Elmau, 10 September 2008  
ACT 97582 [53:20]

Experience Classicsonline

Joachim Kühn, the senior partner, is over thirty years older than his piano-playing compatriot Michael Wollny but their admiration is mutual and admits of no restrictions. Back on 10 September 2008 at Schloss Elmau they were recorded together by ACT’s Siggi Loch in a duo performance now released to wide listenership.

They are both strong improvisers and with the exception of the two solo tracks spend about twenty-six minutes in each other’s company. Inevitably perhaps - though the more combustible duo of Stan Tracey and Keith Tippett would doubtless disagree – the longest tracks are solo.

For newcomers the music can be difficult to categorise so a few descriptive passages may help. The Colours of the Wind is spare with some brisker chordal patterns from both men. Elmau is more obviously romantic and feints to baroque paragraphal points; one wonders how improvised they were or whether they were predetermined pillars. Seawalk invites one to smell the sea spray and salt before locking into a more extended groove after its quasi-impressionist opening.

Kühn’s Chaconne from the Partita by Bach is a strange affair, haltingly articulated and with plenty of spread chords. Some ensuing improvisation is more obviously tangential but the return of the Chaconne ‘theme’ leads to genuinely exploratory and interior, withdrawn investigation. It’s the antithesis of Busoni’s piano arrangement and alternately puzzling and refractive. Michael Wollny’s solo piece is Hexentanz and his piece, playing with Liszt as Kühn played with Bach, perhaps indicates a certain ‘stance’ by these two Germans towards the classical muse. Rolling drive and steady left hand patterns animate this one, now tremolandi, now limpid colour, as well as key strumming in time-honoured modern fashion. It’s got plenty of drive; the question is has it got anything else?

This isn’t one for out and out improvisers or indeed for stylistic extremes. Its appeal is more to colourists and prismic aficionados and admirers of two piano empathics with a yen for seascape and the eternal verities of cadence and colour.

Jonathan Woolf


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