A Different Forest

BY Eric HillPublished Feb 19, 2019

Institutional respectability appears to have found, captured and enshrined Volker Bertelmann, aka Hauschka. Well into the second decade of his career, Bertelmann has become one of the "go-to" composers for more and more marquee films such as Adrift, Gunpowder and Lion, for which he and collaborator Dustin O'Halloran were nominated for an Academy Award.
Sony Classical, who published these scores, has now given him the platform for an album of modest and moody solo piano pieces themed around what appears to be the memory of  a childhood spent exploring the urban woods. Fans of Hauschka's earlier works for prepared piano, often turning the instrument into a propulsive and rhythmic device as much as a melodic one, may be a little let down by the very appropriately "classical" approach to these brief studies.
Wistful and introverted themes abut against a handful of more fraught moments, where the memories turn from monochromatic to colourful clusters, like autumnal avalanches of melody. There are a few pieces, such as "Urban Forest," "Skating Through the Woods," and "Daybreak Over Covent Garden," where a bit of post-production delivers echoes of notes and field recordings to supplement the themes, but for the most part this is Hauschka, both literally and figuratively, looking back to his classical roots.

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