In spite of her “stuff-of-legends” repute, Maryanne Amacher’s acousti-cosmic perspective is not abundantly represented on record; which is, in truth, rather obvious. As gripping as they are, a couple of CDs can’t really exemplify the psychoacoustic extent of intuitions that can be (partially) comprehended only by direct experience. Even close collaborators/alumni such as Marianne Schroeder and Stefan Tcherepnin – the performers on Petra – had their difficulties in decoding what Amacher had in mind while expliciting her highly individual perceptions. As Schroeder puts it in the interview accompanying this release, “she spoke for herself a little bit (…) but we had no problem playing”. If there were lingering doubts on the inefficiency of human language in terms of genuine data transmission, here is the transcendental snapshot of a dimension where one can communicate for real.
A 38-minute work scored (albeit in sketches and fragments) for two pianos, “Petra” might displace ears imprinted with Amacher’s metaphysical soundscapes as documented by the previously available releases. What is evident nonetheless is the composer’s will to furnish the space surrounding each note – each gesture – with a profound resonance, both acoustically and through the undiluted implications of what is played. The journey begins with rarefied notes, quiet chordal movements and intelligible intersections; these are followed by a sudden shift to an alternance of intertwined crescendo and rallentando of repetitive arpeggios. A gradually increasing kinetic energy is symbolized by clusters literally banged on the keyboards, surprisingly pushing the listener to a more contemplative realm, the atmosphere at that point recalling Charlemagne Palestine’s entrancing fluxes of (un)consciousness. The final section brings the whole back to the initial tranquillity; the pace slows down dramatically, sparse melodic snippets evoking the innocence of a sensitive young child approaching the piano for the first time, attracted by the resounding aura generated by the stricken keys.
Unpretentious and heartfelt music, requiring hours of dedication just to scratch its surface. Schroeder and Tcherepnin have managed to translate the insecurity about a correct understanding of the basic instructions into a sonic substance that will make their teacher nod in approval, whatever the vibrational frequency of her current molecular combination.