‘Enter Denter’ = KRISTJAN RANDALU: After the Beginning of the End, Enter Denter – Kristjan Randalu, piano/Tallinn Ch. Orch. – Estonian Record Productions ERP3710 (Distr. by Naxos), from the Glasperlenspiel Festival 2009, 67: 20 ****:
Kristjan Randalu is a pianist and composer born in Estonia but raised and educated in Germany. As his website indicates, his teachers there included John Taylor in Cologne, followed by a time at the Royal Academy of Music in London and a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He has collaborated with Dave Liebman, Ari Hoenig, Nguyên Lê, Ben Monder, Dhafer Youssef, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the New Chamber Orchestra of Berlin and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Berlin Konzerthaus, at festivals in London, Paris, Madrid and Istanbul, and toured in the United States and Canada, across Europe and in Turkey, Korea and Israel.
Randalu seems dedicated to using his own classical training and proficiency in jazz to create new works written in a fairly large scale that are a hybrid art form. Nach dem Angfang vom Ende (After the Beginning of the End) was first developed as a concept in 2001 and premiered in 2003 with Dennis Russell Davies and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. The work is fully – though sparingly – scored for orchestra, without percussion, but the soloist uses the “rules of jazz” to improvise around the guidelines and feel of the score. The four movements – Path of Departure, A Notion in the Past, Little Games and Accountability and Rainbow – are varied in tone but certainly all do retain a playful improvisatory nature. The work as a whole is interesting to listen to, beginning with a sort of ominous minimalist pecking and leading into some lovely interactions between the piano and orchestra. Because the work is so improvised, duration will vary and so would the “sound” of this score in the hands of a different pianist. I enjoyed this for its unusual qualities.
In the “unusual” department, the title work, Enter Denter takes its name from an Estonian children’s television show, “Entel-Tentel” (which is also the name of a popular children’s rhyme comprised of nonsense syllables). I actually tried looking up some of the TV show clips on You Tube and it looks a bit innocently silly in an ‘early ‘60s Eastern Europe’ sort of way. The five sections or movements apparently reference episodes or characters from the TV show: Mouse Hunt, Teddy-Bear’s Lullaby, Pipi Longstocking (the only one made fairly familiar to American audiences), Doll’s Lullaby and Dandelion. It is nearly impossible to learn enough about the children’s program to understand the references if any. The music, itself, like After the Beginning… stands well on its own and runs the gamut from the ethereal to the punctuated to the cartoonish. The CD close with an encore from the 2009 live concert, entitled Each One’s Own Piano and is also pleasant to listen to.
As I mentioned, this music is easy to absorb and engaging to listen to. Randalu is a very capable pianist with fine technique and a true gift for improvisation. I also mentioned that the sound of these works would be quite a bit different with a different pianist. By the time I got through the disc, I decided that – on some level – such a thing may not even be possible. In a conceptual way, only, this reminded me of some of the heady and complex works for piano and orchestra by Keith Jarrett. His works are – it seems – more through-composed than Randalu’s but “the sound” would only be Jarrett’s and such is likely the case here. This album is, therefore, more jazz than classical but makes for good listening. I suggest you check it out!
An excellent survey of a favorite Chopin genre…