Ivan Ilić: The Transcendentalist

Author: 
Bryce Morrison
HERESY015. Ivan Ilić: The TranscendentalistIvan Ilić: The Transcendentalist

Ivan Ilić: The Transcendentalist

  • (5) Preludes, No. 1 in B
  • (24) Preludes, B flat
  • Dream
  • (2) Danses, Guirlande
  • (4) Preludes, D flat/C
  • (4) Preludes, G
  • (5) Preludes, No. 4 in E
  • Music Without Metaphor
  • (3) Pieces, No. 3, Rêverie in C
  • (3) Pieces, No. 3, Poème languide in B
  • In a Landscape
  • Palais de Mari, 'for Francesco Clemente'

At a time when virtually everything is available on CD, many pianists search for something both different and enlightening. For the Serbian-American pianist Ivan Ilic´, who calls his disc ‘The Transcendentalist’, it is a question of terms, one long associated with Liszt’s Etudes d’exécution transcendantes, to a going beyond the range of understood virtuosity, an expansion into music of a seemingly unplayable, quasi-symphonic scope and scale. Ilic´ turns the term on its head, seeing how Scriabin led in his later works to a form of pared-down minimalist expression.

With great skill he surely answers the latter part of Stravinsky’s bewildered question about the older Russian composer (see page 79). For Ilic´ there are unmistakable lines of continuity rather than division. Arguably the roots of the future began with Liszt, whose experimental, dark-hued final utterances dealing with obsessive patterning, harmonic ambiguity and unresolved endings must surely have influenced Scriabin beyond Chopin, the key influence of his early years. Ilic´ makes his case with unfaltering poise; and if you feel that his offerings of works by John Cage, Scott Wollschleger and Morton Feldman hardly reach a sense of the transcendental in the same sense as, say, Fauré’s late song-cycle L’horizon chimérique (literally ‘the mystical, transcendental beyond’), his theory, one that remembers the endless repetitions of Satie’s Vexations, finally leads to silence, the negation of sound itself. Ilic´ is well recorded and will prompt even the most enterprising musicians to think again.

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