Dear Neal Meyer,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your upcoming solo piano performance of Gradus (for Fux, Tesla and Milo the Wrestler). Rest assured, I do remember your infamous Seattle Composers Salon appearance from two years ago. You played a portion of the Gradus and caused a bit of a stir. After the first lone piano note, there came a second, identical note. Gradually, the audience understood that you were planning to play the same note, again and again and again, unpredictably and (to my ears) exquisitely.

I'm sure some of us listening thought we were being hoodwinked. After all, one primal pleasure of musical performance is watching someone else work. Myself, I was riveted and others were too. It's a risky move to so brutally reduce your musical materials, and, as you write in your description of Gradus, " devote an extended piano improvisation session to each single piano tone, and to each combination of piano tones" so fervently.

I'm planning to write a preview in The Score though I don't know how I can better your description of Gradus as "...a listening experience both epic and microscopic, exploring subtleties of overtones, reverberation, and the relationship of piano sound with ambient background, spread over a movie-length time canvas, and combining penetrating compositional rigor with the immediacy and in-the-moment discovery of free improvisation."

Other ultra-minimal epics like Tom Johnson's The Chord Catalogue and Charlemagne Palestine's majestic Schlingen-Bl...ngen hone the listener's attention so sharply that ravishing complexity blooms amidst simplicity. I hope your two-hour continuous performance (without intermission!) of Gradus yields the same result.



Neal Meyer performs Sat Dec 11 at 8 pm (Brechemin Auditorium in the Music Building, UW campus, 685-8384), $3/$7.

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