Sorbonne University, France
NOTE: Prior to listening to the presentation, it is highly recommended to watch the video of the performance of the piece at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzSdUz-wLLY&ab_channel=Athinodorou.music
Following the demanding performance of Christina Athinodorou’s Re:Mains for Multi-Pianist (2013-15) *, the pianist Annini Tsioutis interviews the composer in an attempt to shed light on parts of the composing process and on the creative impulse, including the ‘kinesiographic’ perspective and the ‘designing’ of the performance, as well as on matters of music notation.
Reflecting upon her experience of learning Re:Mains, of working with the composer, and of handling the premiere, Tsioutis elaborates on why this piece can provide a new paradigm for composing for the piano and for piano performers, and on how this experience could lead to revolutionizing one’s own perspective on piano playing and a pianist’s choice of repertoire. In the discussion with Athinodorou, the difficulties of the piece are addressed and evaluated : the material requirements (three pianos on stage, one grand, one upright and one toy) and the instrumental setup of Re:Mains on the one hand, and its sonic qualities and formal development on the other hand.
In addition, Tsioutis argues that the “technical” difficulty of Re:Mains lies not in the pianistic traits of the writing, which are all within logical bounds, but rather, that it lies in the more general stance that the pianist is advised to adopt when engaging with the piece : a stance of openness, attentive listening, coordination of movement and positioning of the self in space. After a brief comparison between this latter aspect and other preoccupations that pianists often have when studying contemporary works (complex rhythms, extended harmonic schemata, extended techniques, non-idiomatic writing, extra-musical associations that might be hard to decode etc), Tsioutis designates gesture and spatiality as the heart of innovation of Re:Mains, and answers to the attempt to preserve the composer’s intentions. Concluding that Athinodorou’s multi-pianist works towards a fluidity of sound through gesture, and that simultaneously, the performative qualities of the pianist are inevitably revealed, this interview-paper ends with a short discussion about the new directions for researching the extended piano, and the potential in the composer-pianist collaboration.
Keywords: Contemporary piano, Composing for piano, Multi-pianist, Gesture, Space, Continuity
Annini Tsioutis studied piano and chamber music at the École Normale de Musique de Paris, and at the Conservatoire Claude Debussy. She also read Musicology at the Sorbonne University, where she specialized in 20th century music. In 2019 Annini completed her doctoral thesis on the 32 Piano Pieces by the Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas (1904- 1949). A fervent supporter of the music of our time, Annini has collaborated with a number of composers of different and often contrasting styles and schools, and has given many first performances of their works around Europe, in solo or chamber music groups. In November 2017 she premiered the work Re: mains for multipianist, by Christina Athinodorou, in the framework of the Paphos European Capital 2017. In the following years she further explored repertoire on acoustic pianos of different sizes (upright, grand and toy piano). Annini lives and works in Paris.