Veryan Weston: Tessellations for Lutheal Piano (2003) (2003)
Improvising pianist Veryan Weston treads cerebral territory during this adventurous undertaking, performed on the Lutheal piano. Created in 1918 by a Belgian named George Cloethens, the instrument was fabricated as a mechanism that could be installed into a grand piano. But the original instrument was presumably destroyed by fire, and so Weston trekked to the Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels to perform on the other Lutheal piano. The keyboard Weston uses here was built in 1922 and is purportedly the last one of its kind.
The differentiator resides within a pianist’s ability to pull out the “clavecirl” stop, where vibrations occur, resulting in various tonal adjustments. Thankfully, the liner notes provide the in-depth technicalities and historical aspects of this unique invention. Moreover, it’s an enhanced CD ROM, providing a source of information for the “Tessellations”: geometric structures transposed into rhythms and counterpoint.
Overall, Weston – a consummate improvising, progressive jazz pianist – uses this antique piano as a platform for expressionism, intrigue, and other sensibilities. He also (and perhaps inadvertently) provides a bit of trickery, due to his often-fascinating contrapuntal maneuvers. As a whole, these five works are comprised of fifty-two pentatonic scales. Essentially, this implementation consists of segments that pronounce a naturally generated stereo sound. Notions of modern day prepared piano elements come to mind, as the artist explores a medley of harmonic contrasts amid a world-music type viewpoint.
Weston improvises through off-metered rhythms in concert with rippling arpeggios and fairy tale-like melodies. It’s an all-encompassing exposition for sure. Sometimes the pianist performs with the vim and vigor of a child rummaging through a toy store, or perhaps akin to an engineer retrofitting an old turbine engine for modern day use. (Vigorously recommended...)
Track Listing: 1, scales 1-6; 2, scales 7-12; 3, scales 13-26; 4, scales 27-39; 5, scales 39-52 & 1
Personnel: Veryan Weston, Lutheal Piano