Henning Schmiedt: Klavierraum

German pianist Henning Schmiedt's Klavierraum sprang from a desire to fill his heavily pregnant wife's room with music that would enable the listener to be carried away by its beautiful harmonies. Klavierraum certainly succeeds in that regard, though it's not pure piano music but piano music often complemented by the enveloping presence of silken electronic atmosphere (and the occasional creak of the bench too). The electronic effects, whether they're more drone-like or looped echoes of the piano itself, resonate, sometimes almost subliminally, as lulling pedal points around which the piano melodies circle and dance. The effect can prove hypnotic, a case in point the soft waves of electronic glimmer that anchor “120ccl Milch.” He accents his playing by stroking the inner strings during “3 Teelöffel Backpulver” and often counters the relaxed background flow with rapid trills. Moods range from contemplative (“1/2 Teelöffel Salz”) and tranquil (“Du und ich”) to impressionistic (“Tee?”), stately (“Kla”), and lyrical (“Vier”).

Elegant and impressionistic, Schmiedt's music will appeal to fans of Goldmund, Max Richter, Sylvain Chauveau, and Peter Broderick, though Schmiedt's music is perhaps less minimal and more full-bodied by comparison. His technical facility impresses, too: whether executing rapid runs or playing slowly and softly, he exhibits the poise and touch of a musician who long ago mastered the instrument technically and now deploys that technique in the service of artistry. Schmiedt's no novice, by the way. His extensive discography of albums, soundtracks, and associated projects for figures such as Mikis Theodorakis and Jocelyn B. Smith dates back to 1987; he's created a soundtrack for a Kurt Weill film, theatre music for a production of “Metamorphosis” based on Kafka's story, a “re-instrumenting” of Gustav Mahler's “Songs on the Death of Children,” and other projects.

August 2008