(Percaso)

Pianist Tomas Bächli studied with Werner Bärtschi and has been the receiver of numerous prizes throughout a career largely built upon interpretations of the works of modern composers (although he regularly performs Bach, Albeniz and other past heroes, too). He’s also half of a piano duo with Gertrud Schneider, in which they tackle quarter-tone and just intonation music. In this CD, Bächli plays a set of 14 pieces by Canadian Brian Agro, this recording constituting my first encounter with his output, in spite of the fact that he’s already released material on this very label. Although he was born in 1953, Agro is one of those musicians whose writing appears to be firmly positioned in a back-looking time frame: elegant lines and semi-consonant chords are sparsely deployed, fruits of a nostalgic temperament ready to be harvested by expert hands. In certain passages the instrument (which seems to have been recorded in a large room from a distance) resounds charmingly, an aura of smiley sadness pervading the air in a tranquil afternoon. Music that leaves a lot of space for thoughts to fly around and pose on the dusty shelves of distant reminiscences, played without magniloquence yet far from being secretive. A responsive interpretation of a rather mysterious artist’s compositional idea, his obscurity contributing to an even deeper intrigue in enjoying this disc.

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