Karlheinz Essl

whatever shall be  (2010)  #12mn — première suisse
for toy piano, gadgets and live-electronics
© Julia Wesely
En concert
Toy! Toy! - di 13.3 15h


In 2010, my toy piano colleague Phyllis Chen from New York commissioned a composition from Karlheinz Essl, which in the meantime became one of my absolute favorites. In this piece, Essl uses the inside of the toy piano for the first time. As in Sequitur V, a contact microphone is attached to the instrument and connected to a custom-made computer program which acts as a kind of sonic "particle accelerator". During their voyage through the piece, the performer not only scratches and knocks on the sound board, but also has to stamp their feet (the source of the rhythm is later revealed) and make use of some special gadgets. A spinning top is played on the sound board, and a thimble produces

beautiful glissandos on the metal rods of the toy piano. At certain moments notes are also played on the keys in a conventional manner, but even those sounds burst into explosive glissandos. At the very end, a small music box enters the scene. Mounted on the soundboard, this little instrument plays the melody of the well known song "Que Sera, Sera (Whataver Will be, Will be)", from the Hitchcock movie "The Man Who Knew Too Much". The magic of this piece probably also has to do with the fact that everything that is heard before the entry of this beautiful melody – all rhythmic cells, melodic motives, even the harmonic structures – are in fact derived from this very melody.

Isabel Ettenauer