(Elsewhere)

If one listens to the piece from 1717 that indirectly originates this composition by Michael Pisaro — namely, “Les Barricades Mystérieuses” by François Couperin — the connection between the two entities may appear hard to fathom, at least in terms of pitch distribution. Still, compositional ideas often germinate thanks to a sympathetic intermediary: in this case pianist Shira Legmann, whose passion for Couperin inspired Pisaro in the creation of thirteen studies for piano and electronics, the latter also utilized exclusively in a pair of additional interludes.

In order to absorb its resonant essence the recording should ideally be listened to in absolute silence, possibly in conditions of inner composure. My initial approach with Barricades had been marred by the outgrowths of a previous state of nervousness, and I immediately realized how the judging mind wanted at all costs to determine what seemed to be missing, rather than setting aside and leaving the sounds to do the work. This is always an unforgivable mistake.

Having chosen to smother that first experience, the reward came when both the psychological backdrop and the listening environment were much better suited to absorbing the positive elements. Everything began to make sense. The sparse lines and simple arpeggios, either fragile or more substantial, mostly tonal but occasionally defined by some “outside” notes, so as to generate clusters of mildly dissonant reverberation. The unassuming presence of the sine waves, as discreetly used as they’re fundamental in enriching certain passages. The concentration transmitted by Legmann’s performance, in between giving up a compulsory meaning and feeling at ease in a familiar habitat.

Anyone with a minimum of superficial knowledge of contemporary piano music will begin to list names in a short chain of clichés (although I myself will promptly admit that “Study No.12” elicited scents of Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs). However, those not needing prescribed reference points will remain happily confined to their own dimension, letting the spectral auras radiate and shape the mood. Without being intrusive but, at the same time, refreshing the melancholic awareness typical of someone who seeks peace, only rarely finding it.

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