The last live show I saw before going into social isolation was pianist Jared Redmond giving a recital at the Center for New Music (San Francisco). The program was very modern, leaning toward brand new compositions, the kind built of hammering densities and streaks of silence. Lots of reliance on the uppermost and lowermost registers, often together.
Redmond kept the program accessible and fun by introducing each piece in detail, discussing some of the themes and ideas at play. Composer Jung-eun Park was on hand for Redmond’s performance of her Moto Perpetuum (2019-20), explaining that the title comes from the sense of perpetual motion in traditional classical music (Bach, for example), those seemingly endless rivers of notes.
Kurt Rohde was there as well, telling the history of his composition Trotsky’s Icepick, which Redmond had played previously in an earlier form (2018) that Rohde later revised (2019). The piece was inspired by the death of Leon Trostky as depicted in a play, where Trotsky fends off and defeats his attackers but is mortally wounded. On the piano, the initial strike was represented by piercing stabs at the very highest keys. The ensuing battle made use of very high and low registers, sometimes in mirror-image progressions that approached the middle of the keyboard from both ends.
As the piece would down, there was a particular sound Redmond made, a chord muffled and then resonating. I don’t know how he did that. Prepared piano would have been my guess, but he didn’t “prepare” anything, and I didn’t see his feet moving on the pedals. Maybe he had two pedals depressed at once? At any rate — a new sound, organically produced. That was intriguing.
Redmond’s own Doth (2019) was packed with brutal and complex snarls of low notes, reflecting his interest in metal music. The Ji-ye Noh composition Gloria (2019-20) stuck to lots of high-register twisting paths. And Redmond closed with Giacinto Scelsi’s Un Adieu (1988), the last piece the composer wrote — gentle and sad, and full of ringing overtones.
Conditions permitting, Redmond is due to return in early 2021 for a pair of piano and electronics recitals, according to his concert calendar. He lives and works in South Korea — hence, his access to new Korean compositions — but seems to have ties to the Bay Area. I think he was even wearing a Berkeley T-shirt under his concert jacket.
I could post a video of Redmond playing Ligeti, but I think I’d rather show off some of his composing. Here’s “Hemistichs” (2008) for string sextet.