Francesco Tristano in Berlin

by Emil


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Our old Friend and partner, Emil from Tartelet Records, just started blogging for us and in this, his virgin post, he'd like to tell you about a gig he recently went to featuring pianist and Carl Craig collaborator Franscesco Tristano. Let it rip, Emil.

Monday afternoon a friend of mine, Felix from Deutsche Gramofon, called and asked, if I was interested in coming to the Francesco Tristano concert at the Berliner Philharmoiker later that evening. “Can I get a + 1” was my immediate answer.

For those unfamiliar with Francesco Tristano here’s a short résumé:

Francesco Tristano is 29 years old and discovered the piano at the age of five. Aged 13, he played his first concert, presenting his own compositions. He is one of the last students at New York’s Juilliard School to complete Bach legend Rosalyn Tureck’s master class. He also studied at the music academies in Brussels, Riga, Paris and Luxembourg as well as the Esmuc in Barcelona. He has released 12 albums. What made him famous in the world of techno was his interpretation of Derrick May’s 1987 classic “Strings Of Life”, which lead to an album and collaborations with Carl Craig.

I had been told the concert would start 20.00 sharp, but coming from a slightly different and less sophisticated scene, I didn’t take it too seriously. My date and I arrived 10 min late, which resulted in us being refused access to our seats near the front row. I was speechless and even though the young lady escorting us to our new destination did her best to make us feel important, I felt robbed. Our newly assigned seats were all the way in the back of the concert hall, where we wouldn’t disturb anyone when entering. By now Tristano was almost half way through his set, playing an interpretation of Aria “La Capricicioasa” by Buxtehude. Very relaxing indeed.

The sound in the Kammermusiksaal is quite amazing, even in the back, and we got to enjoy a spectacular view over the concert hall and all the (mostly) old people occupying the seats. I also spotted Carl Craig peaking out of the backstage area!

Tristano began playing his own compositions from the “Long Walk” album. First up was the title track, which begins with a slow and very beautiful piano sequence, followed by a moody bass line, played on the Yamaha GFX concert grand. He used Ableton live and a launch pad to execute pre-recorded elements. In the middle he got up and started drumming the insides of the piano producing percussion like sounds. It all works and sounds great. He did seem to struggle a little keeping all the different sequences going but nobody is perfect, I guess, not even a student of Juilliard.

The next piece he performed was “Ground Bass” also by Tristano himself. The tempo is higher and the structure and melody equally more complex. Again he banged different parts of the piano forming rhythmical elements adding to the composition.

This last part of the concert was very energetic and stood out from the classical baroque Bach and Buxtehude pieces. Surely, bringing techno into a classical concert hall is unconventional but definitely not groundbreaking. However, it worked and gave the concert an energetic lift towards the end.