Ivan Ilic plays Hans Otte at the Hugh Lane Gallery
Pianist Ivan Ilic returns to Dublin for a rare performance of Hans Otte's masterpiece, the Book of Sounds.
Written between 1979 and 1982 after a multi-day retrospective of his entire oeuvre at the Baden-Baden Festival, The Book of Sounds is Otte's attempt to wipe out his own history, to begin with a tabula rasa from a place of nowhere and nothing --except the present moment and the relationship of sounds to that moment, because of what they are in themselves. If this sounds a lot like John Cage, it is no doubt his influence that hovers over these proceedings. But the methodology is different. Otte's training could not help but be brought into play here; his sheer pianism (he studied with both Paul Hindemith and Walter Giesseking) touches not only upon his historical relationships, but his ideas about how simply he regards the piano as a an instrument of transcription, of delivery: simple, clean, immediate. The floating harmonies, which are the result of unresolved unions of majors and minors in interaction with one another without dissonance, are hauntingly beautiful. This is deeply moving, mysterious piano music, like the Rosicrucian works of Satie or the later preludes by Debussy, or, in some ways, the Nocturnes by Chopin, without their reliance on strict harmonic resolution, but in their convocation of intention and fascination with the mystery of sonic interrelationships. But not even these comparisons do this work justice. In fact it is -- as the late Pandit Faquir Pran Nath remarked when he heard the composer perform it in the '80s -- like a prayer.