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MAGNE HEGDAL Herbarium II - 57 pianoflowers

Herbert Henck: piano

Aurora CD: ACD 5041

Here is a unique collection of one-page piano pieces (1974/2002) by Magde Hegdal (b.1944) which attracted the interest of pianist Herbert Henck in 2001 when they met at Oslo's Ultima Festival and found they shared an interest in the music of Josef Matthias Hauer. Henck was taken by the daring and imaginative power of these "57 pianoflowers", and not less by the composer's handwritten preparation of the score.

Hegdal's pieces are governed by chance processes initiated by John Cage, with a table of rhythmic cells from which is taken a final selection of actual note values and rhythms, and pitch-classes chosen anew on aleatoric principles for every piece. This sounds forbidding, but is less so in the hearing.

Herbarium II (which replaces the withdrawn Herbarium I) omits instructions for tempi and dynamics, quoting Hauer "expression according to colour", and leaves the player freedom to select performance order. A link to an innovator from earlier times is a reference to the 18C composer Antonin Reicha's "new harmonic system" and his The Art of Variation Op. 57. Henck believes that the chance aspect creates "natural quality, beauty and purity, something that may perhaps never be attained in any other way".

It is quiet, intimate music, intriguing to listen to, and looks not too hard for non-professionals to explore at the keyboard; Music Information Centre Norway.

Hegdal & Henck: photo Lars Hallnas

© Peter Grahame Woolf