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The idea of an ensemble composed of pianos and percussion instruments first came about in Stravinsky’s The Wedding. Shortly thereafter, Bartok, who frequently emphasized the percussive aspect of the piano, developed this idea in his orchestral works (Piano Concerto No. 1, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta). In his 1937 Sonata for two pianos and percussion, he established a new instrumental archetype which was taken up by subsequent composers, such as the ones represented in this recording. However, for these composers, it isn’t so much the rhythmic and dynamic elements which link the piano to the various percussion instruments, as was the case for Stravinsky and Bartok, but rather the full range of sound possibilities—the set of different colors—provoking the idea of a fusion between the two entities. One of the characteristics of the huge diversity of percussion instruments that have been adopted from around the world during the past hundred or so years, is indeed the extraordinary variety of specific tonal qualities, in which the kinds of attacks and resonances—the way sounds appear, resonate, and disappear—play an important part. The works of Crumb, Gervasoni, and Haas are built upon such a range of sounds requiring new arrangements and new ways of articulation. Each work has its own range of colors which constitutes the basic material of the composition. Far from the intrinsic structures which reached their peak in serialism, the organization of pitches is here subsumed by the originality and combination of sounds as such. The acoustic quality as a structural and sensitive element is not produced exclusively by a combination of pitches whatever the complexity, but by a very thorough analysis of sound and dynamics. In Makrokosmos, George Crumb uses archaic modal structures and tonal music quotes, which also can be found in Georg Friedrich Haas’ second piece, where tonal chords seem to be lost and found objects. — Philippe Albera