Elodie Lauten, Piano Works Revisited

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 10.03.12 in Reviews

Piano Works Revisited

Elodie Lauten

The New York music scene that produced Philip Glass and Steve Reich has also been home to a number of idiosyncratic artists who pursued their work outside the glare of the spotlight. Elodie Lauten is one of them. The French-born keyboardist and composer (and daughter of the jazz drummer and bandleader Errol Parker) certainly reflects the Minimalist aesthetic in these pieces from the early 1980s. But Lauten can also be seen as one of the first post-Minimalist composers, and has since broadened the scope of her work to include musical theater, alternate tuning systems and electronics. This collection brings together some of her earliest recorded works, those originally released on the Piano Works album and on its follow-up, Concerto For Piano And Orchestral Memory. The latter title referred to the Fairlight CMI (computer music instrument), an electronic keyboard of the early ’80s that provided the album’s processed “orchestral” sounds.

Bringing together some of her earliest works

Roughly the first half of this compilation comes from Lauten’s initial release, Piano Works. These pieces have a deceptively simple surface – the repeating, rhythmic cells of 1970s Minimalism – but underneath, you’ll hear echoes of Erik Satie (in “Cat Counterpoint”), the drones of avant-garde pioneer La Monte Young (in “Revelation”), and the architecture of Baroque music (in “Adamantine Sonata”). The palette expands in the music from the Concerto For Piano And Orchestral Memory to include a small ensemble as well as both processed and “found” sounds. These excerpts are stylistically varied too, from the long, unsettled string harmonies in “Orchestral Memory” to the jazzy “Tempo Di Habanera” to the elegant piano ostinatos and chirpy electronics of “Andante Cantabile.”