Artist: Henri Feuillade
Title: Wraith Paradigm
Released: March 2013
Genre: Solo Piano

Artist Country: Russia
Label: Petroglyph
Catalog Number: Petroglyph105
License: CC BY-ND

It’s not often that I know that I am going to be compelled to write a review of a release after listening to the first few minutes. ¬†I can only think of a few releases that struck a chord with me immediately: Space Weirdo’s Cosmonaut, Graphiqsgroove2009, and Joe Frawley’s Angel Boxes are the ones that jump immediately to mind. ¬†And, even of those three, I never wrote a review of¬†Angel Boxes. ¬†Wraith Paradigm joins the ranks of these recordings that made extremely strong, immediate impressions on me. ¬†Now, let me explain why I had such a strong, immediate reaction to this work.

Henri Feuillade’s real name is¬†Gennady Vladimirov, which had me confused for a few minutes. ¬†However it doesn’t make any difference whether he is Henri or Gennady. ¬†There is a long tradition of Russian composers with excellent ideas, and the type of composition finesse Gennady presents in this work. ¬†Which is to say, Gennady is in excellent company with composers like Tchaikovsky and¬†Shostakovitch from a musical (but not stylistic) perspective.

The notes for this release state that it was inspired by¬†Simeon ten Holt¬īs Canto Ostinato¬†which is a work I am unfamiliar with. ¬†However, the technique that Gennady uses in this composition is familiar from another area of music: twelve-tone compositions. ¬†The ides is that the composer¬†chooses¬†a series of tones from a scale, and works with that series in by applying different relationships to the notes. ¬†I don’t believe Gennady’s technique is as stringent as the twelve-tone structure, however the results are a set of beautiful, minimal piano works that are engaging and fun to listen to.

But it’s not just the compositions that make this release worth listening to. ¬†Lots of musicians today could have taken these pieces and recorded them using a keyboard and done some electronic presentation of them. ¬†However, in this case, it was only fitting that they be recorded on a real acoustic piano. ¬†There are plenty of risks to this, everything from not having the pianistic skills to present the pieces well, to not having the technical skill to make a good recording. ¬†Neither of which is true in this case. ¬†The engineering and production work for these recordings is excellent, as is the choice of a space to record them (which is not mentioned in the notes for this release).

As for the performance, well, let’s say that is a bit of a surprise — and a pleasant one. ¬†I mentioned before that Gennady would be in excellent company with past Russian composers. However, where he doesn’t fit in is in his performance style. ¬†The immediate impression I had when I started listening to these recordings was that this was someone who had studied Keith Jarrett’s works thoroughly, more specifically, his solo piano recordings. ¬†I felt as if I was listening to sections of the¬†Bremen / Lausanne concerts that had been edited out. ¬†And that is why I had this overwhelming, immediate need to review this recording. ¬†The Keith Jarrett solo paino works remain some of my favorites, and the immediate connection I felt to them launched this recording to the top of my list to review.

Don’t take this comparison the wrong way… ¬†There are some points at which it is obvious that Gennady Vladimirov cannot be confused with Keither Jarrett. ¬†However, it is nice to find a recording that fits in the same niche as the Keith Jarrett works, and is available as a Creative Commons release. ¬†Check out this work. ¬†Tell me you don’t fall in love with it as quickly as I did.

And a footnote to this review. ¬†I believe this is the first time I have encountered Petroglyph Music. While I haven’t had too much time, I did poke around a few of the releases in their back catalog, and found them to be quite interesting. ¬†This is a label that will be worth keeping an eye on.

Henri Feuillade: Wraith Paradigm




Posted by George De Bruin