Title: Episodes (Concerto for Two Pianos and String Quartet)
Artist: King Imagine & Pankifared
Release Date: 2014 Nov 8
Genre: Modern Classical / Minimalism
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Southern City’s Lab
Alexander Kohanovsky (aka Pankifared) and Alexei Mikryukov (aka King Imagine) had a conversation on the Internet. Alexei brought up the idea of a collaboration with two keyboards. One of them had an Evolution MK-249C, and the other had an upper-end Casio (with full octaves, sustain pedal and dynamic keys). They set up their keyboards, and started working on a collaboration that resulted in: King Imagine & Pankifared – Episodes.
King Imagine & Pankifared – Episodes
This recording represents a selection of twelve ‘Episodes’ from over forty the duo has collaborated on. These arrangements are not the initial dual keyboard arrangements that the two initially started with. These recordings have progressed to arrangements for two pianos with a string quartet.
The majority of the episodes are shorter works, typically under four minutes in length, with two longer works (one around five minutes, and one seven minutes). While it might be tempting to think of these as miniature works along the lines of Edvard Greg’s piano pieces, the tonality of these pieces is much more in keeping with Debussy.
But to say that these works bear much resemblance to the impressionism of Debussy or Ravel would be inaccurate. First, these are modern compositions that are seeking to imitate the style of Claire De Lune. Second, Pankifared and King Imagine are informed by their Ukrainian heritage, and previous experience in various rock and roots dub groups. Finally, instead of trying to paint sonic images with their music there is much more of a narrative in these works, than one would find in most impressionist works.
‘Episode 17: Fishing’ is a wonderful example of this narrative style. One of the pianos represents the fish and the other the fisherman (or woman). There is a a bit of a battle going on between the pianos. The fisher deploying his lines and bait in the hopes of catching the fish, while the fish darts around from place to place avoiding the temptation of the bait.
Another example can be found in ‘Episode 11: Butterflies Circling Around The Evening Lamp’. One of the pianos, the cello and violins play simple harmonic structures that give the impression of the light dying in the evening. Meanwhile, the second piano and viola play swirling arpeggios and contrapuntal lines to bring the image of the butterflies fully to life before our ears. This is more of a sonic movie, than a tone painting.
Piece after piece unfolds in this manner before the listeners ears. Some pieces have a more movie-style quality than others, but all of them contain some form of narrative that makes the simple painting into a fully realized scene. And, all of these pieces are beautifully recorded for use to hear. The ensemble between the pianos and string quartet is dead on, and the detail of the imaging adds to listening experience of these pieces.
I have been disappointed with modern classical music recently, especially releases that have been coming out under a Creative Commons license. However, this work has restored my faith. King Imagine and Pankifared are modern composers that excel in their ability to capture not just an image but a movie in audio form. And I don’t mean that this is a soundtrack. These are works that have a narrative built into them, they are fully developed episodes as the composers have named them. Add to this a recording that is beatufully imaged, and allows for the dynamics of the interplay between the pianos and string quartet and you have a a major winning release.