Rob just gave me Haushka’s most recent miniature CD titled small pieces. Hauschka, also known as Volker Bertlemann, is a German composer/musician who’s music revolves around the world of the prepared piano. Most people think of John Cage when they hear “prepared piano.” There have been many composers and musicians who have continued to experiment with the idea of the prepared piano and to be honest, I think it’s hard to really “top” or create something new after Cage invented the prepared piano. However, I have really liked Aphex Twin’s album drukqs (that features prepared piano rather prominently) and some works by Hauschka as well. What I like about Hauschka’s work is his judicious use of the prepared piano. Unlike Cage, Hauschka is not trying to manipulate the entire keyboard to sound like a different instrument. It is clear in his music that he does love the natural sound of the piano but with additional textures or colors.( Also, his music has his own particular beat-oriented style that avoids more obvious comparisons to John Cage. )
This 5th CD of his was made for his recent Japanese tour. The pieces are clearly influenced by Erik Satie and the piano preparations are quite subtle. Some of his other CD’s have a more on-going beat track but small pieces has a more introspective sound world.