One Minute More (2009)

by | Jan 8, 2010 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

One Minute More (2009)

60 one-minute films using music of 60 different composers for piano
Performer: Guy Livingston, piano
Studio: Transatlantic Foundation for Music and Art
Video: 16:9 color
Audio: DTS 5.0
Extras: Making-Of featurette
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: ****½

Guy Livingston is a versatile and creative pianist specializing in 20th and 21st century piano repertory.  He is based in Amsterdam and Paris and works with many different other performers and artists in presentations that depart from the usual piano recital. As artistic director for this video, he put together 60 different selections by 60 composers, all running one minute or less, and came up with various visuals and settings for each so it’s not just him seated at the piano playing. Then he assigned bunches of the 60 films to be made to five avant filmmakers: Nelleke Koop, Jean de Graaf, Newt Hinton, Menno Otten, and Thijs Schreuder (they sound like they’re based in Amersterdam too).

The composers who might be familiar to some readers include George Antheil (Livingston is an expert on the American composer and frequently performs his music), Julia Wolfe, Pamela Z, Libby Larsen and Alvin Curran. I can’t say I’ve heard of the others, but they are certainly all varied in their approaches to music. Some of the films are little mini-documentaries, some abstract, some surrealistic, and some use animation.  Humor is a generous part of a number of them:  My favorite is probably Anders Jallen’s “The Piece That Webern Wrote.” Anders didn’t need to compose a note; in a way this even beats John Cage’s 4:33 – he creates a lot of fussing around by the pianist announcing that he’s come into possession of this rare little piece of music manuscript written by Webern and he’s going to play it for the first time.  Finally he does, and it’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”  Jed Distler’s “All 32 Beethoven Sonatas” amazingly condenses exactly that into 60 seconds. Words are part of some of the others as well.  Amy Kohn’s “Corset” describes someone lacing up that accoutrement.  Some of the more abstract filmic images are beautifully synced to their piano music, while others look like experimental filmmaking that doesn’t accomplish much of anything.

Livingston has put together here a highly individual way to expose new music to the public in tiny bites with visuals. The included Making-Of featurette is pretty loose and can be skipped. He also has his own radio show, a podcast of which can be downloaded at his web site,  NPR will be broadcasting some of his music in future.

— John Sunier