Tales of a Talking Piano: performing for childlike adults or adultlike children
This paper discusses the theoretical rationale and practical experimentations that culminated in the project Tales of a Talking Piano for speaking pianist. The project involves pre-existing piano music composed on the subject of the child, along with a commissioned, original fairy tale by the musician and author Dr. Andriana Minou. The repertoire consists of fragments of Sofia Gubaidulina's Musical Toys (1969), Helmut Lachenmann's Ein Kinderspiel (1980), and Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen op.15
... Kinderszenen op.15 (1838). Departing from the proposition that in these works the composers attempted to empathize with the condition of 'childhood' rather than write for children from an adult's perspective, as well as experiment with the notions of 'toys' and 'games', these works embody a self-contradictory condition between childhood and adulthood. The main focus here is the role of the performer in relation to these works, and equally their interaction with this 'condition of childhood', in contemporary performance. In this project, the performer almost becomes a collaborator to the original piece, an arranger of the pre-existing music, and a storyteller. In the end, the performance aspires to create an experience in which adulthood and childhood are equalised through becoming transparent, rendering the music fairy-tale relevant to both adults and children. The first part of this paper examines the theoretical background behind the notion that these works were composed on the condition of 'childhood', and introduces the concept of 'games' and 'toys' as a means of inspiration and compositional method. The second part details the collaboration with Dr. Andriana Minou, and the methodology behind blending various musical material from the particular piano repertoire with the fairy-tale.