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Michael Wollny

Piano Works: Hexentanz

ACT 9756-2 [52:34]




Initiation (Wollny) [4:27]
Schubertiade: Der Doppelgänger (Wollny) [2:37]
Schubertiade: Das Irricht (Wollny) [2:39]
Schubertiade: Der Schatten (Wollny) [2:00]
Schubertiade: Der Wanderer (Wollny) [2:28]
Anchor Song (Wollny, based on a composition by Björk) [2:30]
Hexentanz: Teil 1 (Wollny) [2:56]
Hexentanz: Teil 2 (Wollny) [3:40]
Hexentanz: Teil 3 (Wollny) [2:12]
Hexentanz: Teil 4 (Wollny) [2:01]
Hexentanz: Teil 5 (Wollny) [3:01]
Spell / Enchantment (Wollny) [4:47]
Augmented Time (Wollny) [4:13]
Where is the Line (Wollny, based on a composition by Björk) [3:23]
Spuk (Wollny) [2:38]
Die lebenden Puppen (Wollny) [3:08]
Joga (Wollny, based on a composition by Björk) [3:37]
rec. Studio Zerkall, Germany, August & November, 2006

It isn’t often that one finds Schubert and Björk on the same album, but Michael Wollny is nothing if not eclectic and omnivorous in his music. Still under 30, Wollney is a gifted pianist who has worked with many of the leading German jazz musicians, including both Emil and Albert Mangelsdorff and has made two outstanding duo records with the veteran tenor player Heinz Sauer – Certain Beauty (ACT 9444-2) and Melancholia (ACT 9433-2). He is also a member of the much-praised trio [em] along with Eva Kruse (bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums).

On this album – his first solo CD, I think – he has chosen to devise a themed collection, almost a huge suite.

All the pieces here are linked by the theme of the Gothic. Planning for the project, Roland Spiegel’s booklet notes tell us that "Wollney retreated for a month to the island of Gotland. He listened to Schubert, Steve Reich, Björk and music by Joachim Kuhn (much revered by Wollny), read Edgar Allan Poe and studied films by Werner Herzog, David Lynch and not least Ken Russell’s 1986 work ‘Gothic’: a film that fascinated Wollny as a ‘grotesque brainstorm on the subject’".

The resulting music is intriguing – there are no ‘Hammer Horror’ clichés here. The pieces which have Schubertian titles don’t seem to use themes from Schubert, but rather to evoke, or gesture towards, the dark romanticism of some of Schubert’s subjects. Here, and elsewhere, there are some sparse, brooding passages in which silence is as important as sound; there are Keith Jarrett like clusters and emphasised chords, mixed with yearningly lyrical runs; there are rumbling low chords and rapid figurations high in the right hand; there is some reaching inside the piano to dampen the strings; there are sudden skittering runs which seem to be driven by some unnamed compulsion. But predominantly the music is slow, often broken and fragmentary, its ‘gothic’ disturbance more of mind than event.

One might, finally, wish for a bit more variety of mood if listening to the CD straight through. But there’s no doubting either Wollny’s musical imagination or his very assured technique at the keyboard. This is a young musician we shall be listening to for many years.

Glyn Pursglove


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