NACH WEBERN, NACH POLLINI
for piano solo
dedicated to Anne Shreffler
duration: ca. 8 minutes
This work is based on micromeasurements of timing and volume of Maurizio Pollini’s 1976 recording of Webern’s Op. 27/II, executed by Dr Olivier Senn of the Hoschschule, Luzern in Switzerland in October 2009. The timing measurements detect the moment of onset of each note (the moment when the hammer hits the string) at the level of the millisecond; the dynamic measurements detect the sound-energy (volume) of each note at the point of attack at the level of the tenth of a decibel.
I. Neuordnung nach Dauern (Reorganization according to Duration)
The first movement reorders Webern’s Op. 27/II according to the duration, measured in milliseconds, between attacks (onset points) in Maurizio Pollini’s 1976 recording of the movement on DG 419 202-2, organized from longest to shortest duration. This can be understood as a reorganization according to the length of the notes as Pollini played them, from longest to shortest. Webern’s rhythmic structure, dynamics and pitch matrix are preserved. Therefore, the pitch sequence of Webern’s work has been reorganized according to a performance of that work by Pollini.
II. Bewegungen in Zeitlupe (Movements in Magnified Time)
The second movement re-expresses Pollini’s entire performance of Op. 27/II, translating his microtimings back into standard notation. The pitch, rhythm and volume of Pollini’s performance of Webern’s movement can be seen by looking at the initial attack of every three-note grouping in the movement. Webern’s “handed-ness” is preserved. Other processes are involved, but too complex to describe here. Suffice to say that the Webern/Pollini material is used as an elongated cantus firmus.
III. Neuordnung nach Lautstärken (Reorganization according to Volume)
The third movement reorders Webern’s Op. 27/II according to volume, measured in tenths of a decibel, of the attacks in Pollini’s 1976 recording of the movement on DG 419 202-2. The two A-sections are taken together and reordered from softest to loudest, then the two B-sections are taken together and reordered from loudest to softest. This creates the area of denser chords at the center of the work, since those objects are louder in the Pollini recording; the same holds true for the A-naturals that open and close the work, since this pitch is the softest note attacked throughout the Pollini recording. Webern’s rhythmic structure and pitch matrix are preserved.