Timothy Andres, piano – Shy and Mighty – 10 pieces for one and two pianos (with David Kaplan, p.) – Nonesuch 522413-2, [5/18/10] *****:
Timothy Andres is a 25-year-old pianist and composer who began to attract attention from critics, teachers and fellow composers including John Adams, while he was only halfway thru his studies at Yale. His debut album for Nonesuch presents ten selections for two pianos, all with the assistance of fellow pianist Kaplan, all coming from Andres’ primarily classical training and improvisatory skills. Though heavily imbued with classical music skills – including Adams, Ives and Legeti, Andres admires a variety of pop musicians, including Radiohead, Brian Eno, Sigur Ros and Boards of Canada.
Andres conceived of his playful and contemplative Shy and Mighty as a pop album-length, connected sort of work. Yet each of the little pieces can stand on its own. His models were albums by both Olivia Tremor Control and the electronic duo Boards of Canada, which were structured with larger set pieces and small transitional pieces in between. Many of his pieces have a strong pastoral quality, but he also likes short sonic surprises that give deeper insight into a work or take it in a new direction. The two-piano setting allows for a more orchestral approach when needed, and makes Shy and Mighty more compelling than the average solo piano improvisations. Andres was most influenced in the two-piano setting by John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction. Both “Trip by Train” and “Night Jaunt” strongly show this influence.
Andres has a fresh new and creative take on music which is worlds different from the usual “cross-over” effort, as it is from jazz piano or classical miniatures for piano. This album should appeal to a wide variety of listening tastes, including solo classical piano, New Age, jazz improvisation, you name it. Give this young man an open-eared listen.
TrackList: Antennae, The Night Jaunt, Tunnel, Trip by Train, Die Spieluhr, Out of Space, La Malinconia, How Can I Live in Your World of Ideas?, Flirtation Ave., Pavane (pour un compositeur defunt)
– John Sunier