This release brings all of Morton Subotnick’s piano music together on one album for the first time, along with four first recordings, all supervised by the composer.
Liquid Strata is an important work in Subotnick’s oeuvre. Here the electronic component is what he calls “ghost electronics,” and this is the first of 11 Ghost Pieces. In these works, Subotnick sought to address technology in a way that highlights rather than compromises the inherent features and strengths of acoustical instruments. In the Ghost Pieces, Subotnick pre-recorded the vocal “energy shapes” on tape. These audio signals were played back (but not heard), combined with sine tones, and sent to an envelope follower. The voltages generated trigger Buchla-produced pitch, amplitude, modulation and stereo panning. All of the Ghost Pieces are to be performed live on a proscenium stage, with speakers in front of the performer.
The Other Piano is a continuation of the Ghost Pieces. The composer refers to the electronics as “a quadraphonic sound painting [spread] throughout the auditorium, done on the spot, intuitively, by a sound painter. … one always hears the real piano and the transformations are a fantasy, changing in time and space, whirling around the room…”. Subotnick drew conceptual ideas for Falling Leaves from Scarlatti sonatas, a “sense of Scarlatti, but not derivative,” particularly repeated notes, the virtuosic crossing of hands, and the idea of cadences. The early Preludes Nos. 1 & 2 are post-Webern influenced works. Prelude No. 4 is the first piece where Subotnick worked with the Buchla synthesizer. The electronic component is composed onto stereo tape, which is played alongside the live piano."