ROTHKAMM – Opus Spongebobicum


“40 variations on the secret formula from Spongebob Squarepants, our beloved yellow friend”. Gosh. A “recent cartoon” devotee this writer is not, but looking at a Nickelodeon trademark at the end of the liner notes I deduce that we’re talking about an animation here. Which won’t put in plain words the nature of this music for solo piano, coming from a man whose “repetitive strain injuries” limit the time that he’d like to set aside to enjoy a recently acquired 1968 Wurlitzer. Amongst the many, many things that Frank Rothkamm has done, we are now cognisant of a cycle of studies with Karl Heinz Witte (“a pianist renowned for his rare ability to improvise multi-voiced fugues”) that perhaps represents a key through which the probing ones can move towards this record without remaining all at sea (more or less what ensues with the preponderance of Rothkamm’s outings). Another tentative rationalization, most probably an essential issue underlining this “Opus”, comes from the composer’s designation of “piano music as a form of sitting contemplation”. Still, there’s not too much in this disc that could be used as a soundtrack for staring at the void: the nonstop shift between proto-classical forms and flashes in which the contrapuntal texture seems to break up into sweetly tolerable non-consonance is what, on the contrary, keeps the conscientious listener sleeping with an eye open. Sooner or later, something unforeseen happens even in apparently inoffensive passages. Is Rothkamm implying that he’s the actual sponge? Is this just an absorbing (pun intended) remembrance of the influences of his youth? Should I start watching Nickelodeon to comprehend? The view from this terrace: this gathering is – who dared to doubt? – a one-of-a-kind system for escaping expectations by utilizing refashioned past conceptions converted into a string of unquiet considerations. Very nice-sounding to these ears. Warning: not suitable for post office employees and customs personnel.


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