Saturday, January 25, 2003


There have been rumours floating around recently that the innovative ensemble pianocircus have been contemplating some major changes of direction in the light of persistent financial difficulties … ones not unrelated to continuing policy shifts at the Arts Council. This follows on from the recent departure of founder member Richard Harris, and also Richard Haxel, who has been part of pc since 1999. Whatever the complexities of keeping the show on the road, you are strongly advised to look out for their fascinating new 2003 production, which hopefully betokens a continued flourishing of this highly creative sextet:

“A collaboration between pianocircus and the aerial theatre company Scarabeus, ‘Landscapes of the Heart’ involves five dancers and five pianists, with all ten performers (and five keyboards) suspended in mid-air on ropes and harnesses. Lasting 45 minutes, the work is scored by pianocircus founder member Richard Harris, with the members of pianocircus playing live on top of a specially composed pre-recorded backing track.

”The soundtrack CD and a poster will be available to purchase at every performance. The CD [is now] available to purchase directly from [our] website -, priced £10.

” ‘Landscapes of the Heart’ is a personal homage to the seductive pull of the city. Inspired by Marco Polo's visions of imaginary metropolises in Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities', [it] suggests in equal measure the sense of displacement and belonging which urban living endows the traveller / emigrant / refugee.”

The 2003 dates will be announced shortly. I was fortunate enough to catch the 2002 pc tour (before they went to Argentina and Switzerland) with Heiner Goebbels’ ‘Scutigeras’, a vigourous work involving a blend of acoustic and electronic approaches – including a delightfully retro Moog-style.

"These are by no means straight arrangements: the six players alternate between two grand pianos, four sampling keyboards and a spinet, transform the piano sounds in various ways, play a variety of conventional and unconventional percussion, and incorporate a variety of mechanical and natural sounds." (Andrew Clements)

pianocircus continue to focus on a rich repertoire of multiple piano works (many created specifically with them in mind). But, as in their dalliance with the Future Sound of London, they tune in to other aural realms.

No comments: