On Debussy's Piano And... "Awesome, well matched virtuosos in the ocean of sound!" - Terry Riley
Die Schachtel (Italy)
In loving memory of my mother Geraldine Serine (September 30, 1940 - December 31st, 2008)
1. The Memory Of Ourselves,
2. They're Seen From Other Places,
3. Now From Now To Now. 4. Birth Of A Modern Mind, 5. A Child Opens Her Ears, 6. A Lifetime Away 7. And Oceans Between Them. 8. Dreaming Of Dreaming 9. Of Living A Life
10. With The Wind.
11. A Pause Before The Rest.
12. Bombs Rain On Burial Day,
13. Another Century Passes.
14. Jupiter Mercury Venus Moon.
15. The Last Music She Hears
16. In Return To It All Once Again.
Complete Liner Notes by Terry Riley:
Anyone who has heard Thollem or Scodanibbio as a soloist might well imagine what a combination of their
unique genius could produce. Now you can hear it for real on Debussy's Piano...yes...the same piano the
magical, marvelous and world-changing Claude Debussy once owned and played himself. And Debussy's
spirit certainly hovers here in the auras of ferocious demoniacal energies and delicate impressionistic
shades of vibration emanating from these mesmerizing, polished structures.
Stefano Scodanibbio, for many years now, has redefined and expanded greatly the techniques of playing
the double bass. He has made this instrument speak in ways never before experienced and has unleashed
a sonic arsenal for this instrument that has inspired composers like Cage, Berio and Stockhausen to heap
praise on this wonderful 21st c. Paganini. On this recording he burns through Thollem's structures with
fire and elegance.
Thollem'skeyboard flights unleash cascades of notes of seemingly impossible velocity and no matter
where he goes tonally, it always seems right, fresh and satisfying. He should be on everyone's listening
list who appreciates great piano music. As an improviser, he inhabits a world uniquely his own,
rhythmically, harmonically and formally. A true original.
Debussy's Piano, Thollem and Scodanibbio. An imaginative idea, wonderfully realized with virtuosity,
improvisational mastery and intuitive communication of deep sensibility all residing here in the
magical marriage of their artistry.
'Jupiter Mercury Venus Moon'
Film by: Peter Sparling - Music of Thollem/Scodanibbio
A brief explanation of titles: My mother was very ill when I recorded this music, and it was profoundly sad for me that she was unable
to make the trip to France for the concert. She was a pianist and a great teacher, and Debussy was her
favorite composer as a small child and throughout her life. She died 3 months after these recordings were
made and so I was fortunate to be able to share them with her. When Stefano and I recorded the structured
improvisations of mine there were no titles set, as I didn't want titles to influence our music. So, I set the
titles afterwards and during my mothers last days. These titles are a poem interweaving the lives of my
mother and Debussy. On my mother's deathbed I looped the recordings of myself playing Debussy's
music. The evening my mother died Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and the Moon made a perfect diagonal
to the sunset from the perspective out the window of her hospital room.
'They're Seen From Other Places'
Film by: Tuia Cherici - Music: Thollem/Scodanibbio
I was invited by the city of Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, to
play a concert on the only piano Claude Debussy owned
the last 14 years of his life. In turn I invited Stefano
Scodanibbio to join me in structured improvisations
I devised particularly for this concert. This is the first published recording of his piano.
From Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes That this is a meeting of virtuosos is quite evident, as both Thollem
Mcdonas and Stefano Scodanibbio need no introduction to affirm
that their reputation of master improvisers is totally deserved. A
mix of restraint, lucidity, sudden bursts of fervour and scents of
earlier eras defines the duo, making us forget about the merely
technical aspects of this union. Play the CD one, two, ten times,
and each experience is going to be revealing for a series of
reasons. First of all the type of
recording, which does not exactly
focus on the minute details, privileging instead a sort of
"omnipresence of the natural reverberation” which attributes
an absolutely magic aura to the interplay. Scodanibbio’s
nonconformist, and yet so “classic” incursions in the mechanisms
and most internal responses of the double bass is still an awesome
listen, and an essential object of observation for students. His
ever-alert, albeit serene arco sapience rides through Mcdonas’
implausibly elegiac legerdemain, light touches and unlocked
cascades of chords and notes at the basis of an improvisational
system which was “devised for the occasion” by the pianist. Add
the special flavour given by the utilization of an instrument
once played by Claude Debussy (now preserved in Brive-La-
Gaillarde, France), and what you’ve got is a record that starts
as nearly impenetrable but slowly grows to expose a work of
art, a case in which the spirit of the music prevails on
anything else: when the first seconds of the heartrending
“Dreaming Of Dreaming” materialize, everything connects.
'A Lifetime Away'
Film by: David Latreille - Music: Thollem/Scodanibbio
From Ernie Paik, Chattanooga Pulse
The collaborative album “on Debussy’s piano and…” by pianist Thollem
McDonas and contrabassist Stefano Scodanibbio is a new homage to
the influential turn-of-the-20th-century composer Claude Debussy
and his late period, with McDonas playing on Debussy’s actual piano,
used during the last 14 years of his life. This frequently stunning and
challenging album also serves as a worthy remembrance for Scodanibbio,
who died in Mexico just two weeks ago.
The album is comprised of 16 improvised pieces based on a system
created by McDonas for this collaboration, and, in a way, it’s like an
hour-long sonic poem, with each track’s title serving as one line of the
poem. Scodanibbio, although not a household name, is one of the most
respected bassists in the contemporary classical world, a fearless
innovator with a wide sound vocabulary. The prolific McDonas (who
recently appeared in Chattanooga at the Easy Lemon) is himself a
master improviser, with an intrepid, breathless style that can switch to
a tender, nuanced manner in an instant.
Throughout, there are subtle abnormal features that demonstrate the
work of two artists in total control, such as Scodanibbio’s deliberate,
precise wisps on “The Memory of Ourselves.” “Now From Now To Now”
features McDonas’s solemn piano alongside impassioned, heavy bowing
from Scodanibbio. One of the album’s most gorgeous tracks is “Dreaming
of Dreaming” with a somber piano melody and long, almost weeping bass
tones, evoking a kind of solitude. It’s an album with many complicated
auras, daring to articulate a strange, new beauty.