BART VAN DONGEN & RICHARD VAN KRUYSDIJK
If there is any instrument that has an aura around it of being rock solid and incorruptible, it must be the piano. It is the cornerstone, the unbending backbone of Western academic music, the guiding light of twelvetone equal temperament. Obviously, any object or concept that appears to embody unwavering authority is prone to being subverted. A Mona Lisa is best enjoyed with a moustache added to it. The first subversions of the piano were executed by composers Henry Cowell and John Cage, who explored the insides of the instrument, until then deemed off limits. They demanded that the strings be stroked and plucked, that they be fitted with all manner of whatsits and doodahs, including sheets of paper and bolts. The thing does sound like a piano, but it sounds like a lot more. It speaks languages it never knew. One might say it speaks in tongues.
Pianist Bart van Dongen and electronic conjurer Richard van Kruysdijk (Omnichord & live sampling) push the boundaries of the piano just a little further in joint improvisations, overlaying and interlacing the instrument with fields of otherworldly resonance and beauty. Regardless whether the piano is played with or without modifying additions, this environment gives it new meaning. What’s more, the electronics do not just serve as a setting in which the piano may sparkle and shine, the two become intertwined. They may remain separately recognizable, but they do develop a symbiotic relationship. There is a magic of transformation in the air. The air resonates with musical alchemy. So, rather than subverting the piano, the two musicians forge something that sounds new and beguiling. Five pieces, five compounds, five wondrous hybrids. What once was rock solid has definitively been turned into a fluid existence.
René van Peer