Nik Bärtsch: Entendre

Mike Jurkovic By

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Nik Bärtsch: Entendre
Prepared, primal architecture sparks the core of pianist Nik Bärtsch's rapid fire, polymetric obsessions. So he titles his works moduls (German) or modules as the are known in King's English. Each piece adaptable and transactional to the next. Each variant available to lend its unique ruminative or propulsive elements to the music preceding or succeeding it. It's a hypnotic concept to be sure, played out with the clock work precision of his ensembles Ronin, with recordings like the staggering Awase (ECM, 2018); and from his other group, Mobile, there is Continuum (ECM, 2016).

And though the idea of clock work precision sounds too disciplined, dystopian and detached, those again familiar with Bartsch's work know full well the total opposite to be true. All of our shared but often denied emotion, rancor, peace, and fragility are on full, glorious display in the pianist's expansive calculations. Modular in design, but connected to a greater whole.

Alone at his instrument at Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano, Bartsch reduces from four players to one and revisits, reanimates and reimagines six fully prismatic works previously brought to life through the dynamic interplay of Ronin and Mobile. Heightened by a classical minimalism, Bartsch pursues Awase's mesmeric "Modul 58" into an ever more driving wave that breaks, rebuilds as it hit another reef and then breaks again. Based on an existential sparseness, "Modul 5" and "Modul 13"—both from his solo disc, 2002's Hishiryo: Piano Solo (Tonus)—bound with new curiosities and strategies, releasing an energy only Bartsch, at this connective, collective juncture, fully understands and employs to regenerative and restorative beauty.

Track Listing

Modul 58_12; Modul 55; Modul 26; Modul 13; Modul 5; Deja-Vu Vienna.


Nik Bärtsch: piano.

Album information

Title: Entendre | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: ECM Records

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