Francesco Tristano is a young pianist-composer born in Luxembourg who is making an international stir as a personality with his own kind of crossover approach. The crossings are in a multiplicity of directions – Baroque, classical, new music, jazz and club music. ‘bachCage’ is a kind of concept album imagining Bach as the first composer of widespread influence and Cage the last.
The layout on the disc includes a complete performance of Bach’s First Partita played straight with immaculate fingerwork, neat staccato, impeccable rhythm and no gimmicks, until the end of the Gigue, where something like reverberation emerges in the final section, catches the last note and then continues right through Cage’s In a Landscape. This mesmeric meditation is a small masterpiece purely as Cage wrote it for piano or harp in a Satie-influenced period (1948) – I’m not clear what the swimming-pool acoustic adds. But with Tristano’s ‘postmodern blend of digital and analogue technologies’ in tow and ‘a large array of microphones’ with as many as 15 tracks laid down at times, this ‘rehanging of old masters’ is the whole point. Cage’s lovely The Seasons follows and his single Etude australe is less arid, with some acoustic manipulations. Tristano’s Interludes are for prepared piano; and, by the time he ends with the Bach Minuet, the full treatment is in place for Bach too – subtle and amusing. For more about Tristano see his lavish website, not the CD booklet.