French pianist Sebastian Gandera is a rare example of a contemporary musician that eschews generic labels and fuses different eras and styles into a 21st century amalgam. His mixture of classical, romantic, impressionist and modernist composition traditions produces artistic music in the truest sense of the term. He has released numerous compositions through the Efficient Space label and DJ Julien Dechery has compiled these works into a one-hour special, released through NTS Radio. Featuring 34 piano pieces from the composer's extensive catalogue, half are from from his late-era cassette albums La Revanche De La Nuit, 9 Histoires Sans Parole Pour 10 Doigts Sans Sourire, La Bakélite and Les Impudiques’ while the rest are untitled and unreleased. Open to interpretation, it is refreshing to hear such a sincere form of music.
Despite confining himself to one instrument, the piano, Dechery has compiled the varied sound that Gandera is able to produce from this instrument. Whether in the style, instrumentation and emotion, there is enough diversity in the sound to allow for the consistently tranquil piano to never grow tiresome. The different styles are the biggest strength of Gandera’s compositions, with Dechery seamlessly transitioning between them. These include the soft and simple impressionist pieces, where the piano floats by in a state of suspended motion, aurally similar to Claude Debussy’s ‘Clair De Lune’, the melodically complex classical pieces that show off Gandera’s skill as a composer, which use varied tonal ranges and wild dynamics inspired by the romantic period, and the more modernist compositions that introduce other instruments, like an accordion, and dynamic rhythms. This 34 piece suite is a great example of the contemporary composition and the way it splices influences and conventions from the entire Western classical tradition. The result of this is a variation in emotion. While the piano creates a consistently relaxing effect on the listener, the differences in tempo, instrumentation and melodic structure between compositions means some are beautifully tranquil, while some are sporadic and energizing.
Gandera’s works can form a textured soundscape, while also rewarding a deeper listener. There is a well of rich complexities begging to be appreciated.