For a long time in the introduction text of Piano Etudes one could read: twenty stories with the piano as the main character, but in fact it should read: with the piano as model. In each of the twenty stories the piano takes on another form, continually playing another character: as a seducer, as a guide, or offering resistance, as the to be conquered lover, as a tool of imagination.In the stories, the piano remains the constant factor: as the transmitter, pulling a new story from the ground. Life has been touched in all kind of aspects and made sensorial. This all happens through investigational practice to get to the point, as etudes, musical reflections giving form to life. The piano is the ideal model for this, because of its theatrical potency, as a sound box, as object, as space, as construction, as personage. During all these characteristics the piano is the subject of investigation being played in Piano Etudes and it is the art throughout the theatrical performance to connect all these shapes and layers with each other, guiding you, the spectator.
The musical layer brings something very special, providing content in a lot of the stories, influencing moods, supplying intermezzos in order to recover one’s breath during the story, forming an extra layer in some instances, rather like the role of music in a film, as an extra personage.
The piano proves to be very useful for this, because of its strong presentation, as sound, as object, as range – from almost silent to extremely loud – as a creator of mood. For this reason the performance begins with the presentation of the piano as the introduction of a personage, until that moment still ‘undiscussed’. This introduction takes place with a specially composed song Do not take another man’s wife, made by Zbigniew Preisner for Kieslovski’s film Rouge. Everything is already present in this opening: the sound of the piano with just a few chords, the sound of the voice. The two musicians represent what could called: this is the tone for an adventure that starts, opening up, spatial and stirring.
Then, in the first etude, the piano will be introduced, after the last sound of the overture has disappeared, not as a rationally appointed object, but to act out as a poetic metaphor. The only time the piano plays its part as a real constructed object, is exactly shown in the story during which she splashes down onto the paving-stones. ‘Put this together again. How? Follow the manual? Turn the film backwards!’
Because the piano fits so well as model, able to provide diverse characters in different stories, it offers rich possibilities to connect music and story. It is a model able to produce not only sounds but also adding its own layer, creating strong options, enabling music with abstract space as an essential role. Because of that we need ‘storytellers’ and ‘musicians’. In this way the richness of the metaphor with the piano as model, will be brought about, reflecting on culture, on human relationships, on love and death, on eroticism, on language, on learning and growing, even on the processes of life. Different emotions will be called up by the nature of the stories. Sometimes serious or sad, another time absurd, surreal, as fable or as film.
The interpreters, musicians or storytellers have to realize this investigation each time, to keep this process pure and alive. Also they have been touched by the model itself and cannot just play automatically. Of course the performance is based on a certain agreed structure and form, just in order to create this nuanced playfield, the necessity to bring music and story to life, not to remain on the surface. Maybe this the most important reason – seen from the creative process – to recreate the performance many times, to let it continually grow and mature.
drawings: Helena Rios