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Baker's Dozen

Music Is Not Sport: Nils Frahm's Favourite Albums
Karl Smith , September 10th, 2015 14:05

Before he releases his Late Night Tales compilation, the pianist, composer and new classical ("I never liked it, but I'm stuck with it now; give me something cool like 'neo jazz'") pioneer gives Karl Smith a tour of his favourite overlooked records, by musicians "that deserve a little afterglow"


Valentin Silvestrov - Bagatellen Und Serenaden
There's Gia Kancheli, Arvo Pärt and Valentin Silvestrov forming kind of the ECM East European composers trio - and they're all fantastic. Valentin Silvestrov kind of fell over in the back a little bit: he has one leg in the new music field, but he's almost too romantic and too harmonic for that, which is great, because he doesn't need to sound awful to be new. He can sound beautiful and very modern. I think that's what makes this composer trio very exceptional and a very wonderful addition to the new music world.

Manfred Eicher from ECM recorded this album accidentally while they were producing an ensemble recording. I like the story that they're all hanging out, recording this beautiful orchestra, this little ensemble, and this is the last third of the CD. The first two thirds are just little études he wrote, playing while the musicians are taking breaks. It wasn't even supposed to be recorded; he's just playing, self-forgetting. It's beautiful.

Silvestrov has lived for 40 years in this tiny socialist house in Poland - he doesn't live in this world. He gets up in the morning, makes his tea on his 40-year-old stove, everything is cluttered up with sheet music and the first thing he does is play and the last thing he does in the day is play.

He found a way of escaping socialism just by music. It's necessary; it's essential for him to develop his own world.