THE SURFACE IS SLOW - PERFORMING PIANO MUSIC BY MORTEN EIDE PEDERSEN
Summary: A research project by Signe Bakke
This project was about revisiting the “T.S. Eliot Impressions” by Morten Eide Pedersen (1958-2014). The goal was to resume work with these five movements for piano solo, a performer-composer collaboration which had been terminated by the composer’s early death. Bakke studied all of Pedersen’s works and interviewed his former colleagues in order to glean additional subtle nuances of his style and aesthetics. Her intention was to assemble the unfinished manuscripts and various notes from rehearsals with the composer. Then she would present the complete piece in performances, recordings, and a commented edition of the full score. Two other piano pieces by Pedersen, “Soccorsi” and “Slowness Studies”, were also added to her project.
Bakke started the project by recalling her conversations with Pedersen, thereby attempting to envisage his aesthetical ideas. These efforts were reinforced by reviewing other pieces by the composer and by studying the T.S. Eliot’s poems and their philosophical content. Slow tempos in many of the movements challenged a sense of active listening. To counteract this, Bakke’s main focus was to experiment with different lines, touches, timbres, and a sense of space and mental awareness. This led to different approaches depending on the main character of each piece. Different creative versions/solutions of the open-form piece were investigated, ending up with a modified version of the intuitively-felt, initial interpretation. In order to expand expression, she developed short improvisations and made small expressive changes each time a fragment was repeated. The result became a more vital expression which at the same time suited the minimal style. In her work with the commented edition, she gradually became conscious of the significance of the visual aspects of the score, in which a sense of space is a central part of the expression.