Richard Beirach: Hubris (ECM 1104)

 

Richard Beirach
Hubris

Richard Beirach piano
Recorded June 1977 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Classically trained pianist Richie Beirach has created some of ECM’s most melodically engaging music. His first solo album is a keepsake to be treasured for its melodic detail and structure. “Sunday Song” embraces the album at either end with heartache and never lets go, even in silence. Within its fibrous interior, Beirach spins thematic funnels from vivid ostinatos. Floating in its liquid center is the title piece, which if anything is circumscribed and modest. No single mood dominates, thereby allowing the listener the benefit of continual reassessment. One feels the music developing in multiple and simultaneous directions, such that a destination cannot always be inferred. Between the speculative considerations of “Osiris” and “Future Memory” and the narrow syncopations of “Leaving,” one finds a range of brushstrokes at the musician’s employ. The aerial dissonances of the latter piece leave particularly indelible impressions upon the mind’s palimpsest. “Koan” is a colorful and erratic interlude and stands equidistant from the likeminded “Rectilinear.” Beirach scales his greatest heights in “The Pearl,” which he buffs to a blinding shine with arresting key changes, only to be refracted in a haunting traipse through the “Invisible Corridor.”

With no one to answer to here, Beirach’s notecraft is pared down to the core and given free reign. These vignettes are atmosphere itself, bound to their titular prompts while also shedding them in favor of absolute expression.

Beirach at the keys (photo by Philipp Uldokat)

2 thoughts on “Richard Beirach: Hubris (ECM 1104)

  1. Is this the best place to start with Beirach? He seems to have given unusual focus in his career to solo dates. Or should one opt for a trio recording, or one of his projects with Liebman?

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