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Two compositions exploring the decay of the piano from Wandelweiser composer Eva-Maria Houben. Fading sound is the link between life and art; between perception in daily life and perception while performing, while composing.
“Fading sound is the link between life and art; between perception in daily life and perception while performing, while composing. And the awareness of fading sound may become the awareness of presence.”
Halfway through Eva-Maria Houben’s abgemalt, the pianist unfurls a simple, delicate filigree of three notes: from C to D to E and back again, a careful meander that repeats without exactitude. In the bass, an F# lingers, creating a subtle, non-confrontational dissonance. The turning gesture ends on a D, left briefly hanging in space, before the pianist begins a new phrase.
Houben is an archaeologist of silence. She is a musicologist and a composer; her study of the past fuels her experiments in the present. In her publications, Houben has excavated the historical silences, drawing attention to a past canon of unheard moments, stretching from John Cage to the Second Viennese School to even as far back as Berlioz and Bruckner. Snippets of non-noise between the movements of a symphony anticipate the silent experiments of Cage; Berlioz’s indication of “presque rien,” “nearly nothing,” in his scores points towards a future practice of musical silences.