31 January 2023

And now for music

I managed most of two sessions in addition to the Jon Rose workshop at SoundOut.  Just a touch on my impressions rather than a full list of players and collectives.  Suffice to say each performance was 20-30 mins, usually one or two numbers.  Numbers may start with agreed, even stated, intentions, usually outspoken, or perhaps just crescendo from soft noises.

Whistle Biter reintroduced me to the intensity of Hermione Johnson on prepared piano.  Or rather it reminded me of HJ as she'd attended a previous SO where I'd heard her 9 years before.  She prepares her pianos with chopsticks in the strings, and the sound is delicate and pretty, although her attacking, impulsive, vigourous style knocks them for six at times and somewhat hides the tone.  Hermione is all intense handfuls in right and left hand and occasional dropped (mostly left) arms on keyboard and then plucks under the piano lid.  Just stunning and committed, trained or not.  Her offsider, Dave Brown, was more sedate if still atonal and noise-y, so the result could be sparse, open or intense, with guitar effect hits, piano extravagance and repetition.  A nice pairing

We heard Hermione again the next day in a star trio led by Jon Rose and with bassist Clayton Thomas.  I heard communications, great chops, intent, interestingly plenty of eyes and ears open to each other, imagination, variation, it had it all.  Jon displaying years of technical exercises if not flaunting it, and similarly Clayton, mixing sounds and emotions with pizz lines, pulled strings, pizz below the bridge, strums, bows, drumstick in strings, the lot.  Just a stunning outing by this trio. 

Hermione Johnson (piano) played with Dave Brown (guitar) as Whistle Biter, and later with Jon Rose (violin) and Clayton Thomas (bass) at SoundOut.

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