On Thursday 6th May, we were lucky enough to watch an exclusive premier of ‘Parallels’, a piece by composer, guitarist and improviser Moss Freed. The Q&A which followed really allowed the audience to dig deeper into the music, and gave us a lot of food for thought. Freed has studied composition extensively, attending Goldsmiths to study for a masters in composition, and is currently researching composition for the Universities of Hull and Huddersfield. Freed’s newest composition, ‘Parallels’, was premiered as a performance by Alexander Hawkins on piano, Elliot Galvin on piano, kalimba and kazoo, and Maria Chiara Argirò on piano. A composition for three pianos, ‘Parallels’ was a challenging yet beautifully explorative piece which intended to bring together three different improvisers in order to see how they would interpret the piece differently, and without being able to hear one another. Freed explained that the musicians were working at different tempos, and were often given notated instructions to freely improvise without any restrictions. This made the piece extremely interesting to listen to, with new ideas and tonal centres featuring all the time. Although ‘Parallels’ may be a challenging composition at first glance, every listen illuminates something new - it’s a really stimulating and thrilling piece of music.
‘Parallels’ also features lots of different timbres, rhythmic ideas, tempos, tonal centres, and extended techniques. Hawkins noted in the Q&A that ‘Parallels’ is interesting in part because of the sounds being made which aren’t typical in a piano trio. The added instrumentation of the kazoo and kalimba are obvious, but Hawkins also noted the different resonances created by the diversity of the pianos, and also the fact that when plucking the piano’s strings, he added a completely different timbre and texture. It was also interesting to listen to the piece and understand how a sense of climax, tension and release were created within a composition based partly upon chance. There was definitely a sense of tension when all three players improvised in contradiction and yet as a unified ensemble, and a sense of release in the abruptness with which this ended. Hawkins mentioned John Cage as an influence, because of the elements of chance involved within the piece, but suggested that Freed was expanding on this well-worn path by challenging the musicians in new and exciting ways.