Performing on two pianos simultaneously, Mabel Kwan takes on Trois Hommages, the virtuosic opus of contemporary composer Georg Friedrich Haas. Haas dedicated the work to three of the 20th century’s most influential composers—György Ligeti, Josef Matthias Hauer, and Steve Reich—and each of the piece’s three movements are played in their respective homage. While one of the pianos is tuned in a conventional manner, the second is detuned by a quarter-tone, creating 176 different pitches for the performer. Unfolding over an hour, this rarely performed composition requires incredible mental focus and physical stamina on the part of the player.
This performance is part of a residence in which Kwan will record Trois Hommages for future release.
Chicago-based pianist Mabel Kwan has been praised by the Chicago Classical Reviewfor “stunning virtuosity, musicality and resourcefulness that was almost as enjoyable to watch as to hear." No stranger to contemporary music, she is pianist for the esteemed Ensemble Dal Niente as well as the trio Pesedjet. She last performed at EMPAC in 2015 for Pianoply, handling work by Evan Johnson, Eliza Brown, Rebecca Saunders, and Gerardo Gandini.
Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas is known and respected internationally as a highly sensitive and imaginative researcher into the inner world of sound. His music synthesizes the Austrian tradition of grand orchestral statement with forward-looking interests in harmonic color and microtonal tuning that stem from both French spectralism and a strand of American experimentalism. Since 2013 Haas has been the MacDowell Professor of Music at Columbia University.