Adam Tendler’s ‘Inheritances’ brought wistful beauty beyond convention – Twin Cities
Pianist Adam Tendler’s performance at the Parkway Theater presented by Liquid Music on Saturday night brought together an all-star lineup of forward-thinking composers. When Tendler received a small inheritance after his father’s death, the New York-based pianist began commissioning composers. Their works undermined notions of grief, loss and family ties, pushing convention for a boundless evening of music that exuded melancholy beauty.
Performance artist and composer Laurie Anderson’s work began before the show began, with text created by an artificial intelligence program she developed projected onto the screen. After introductions from Liquid Music producer Kate Nordstrum, Tendler then began performing Anderson’s “Remember, I Created You,” which, like the text screened before the show, had an educational tone and sense of purpose. wry humor and poetry of Anderson. Anderson’s voice was heard over the speakerphone, giving Tendler prompts, such as asking Tendler to play something he had never played before. When Anderson’s voice told Tendler to play something his father wouldn’t have liked, he began to reach for the piano strings, causing them to yawn and moan. When asked to play something his dad would really like, Tendler played a cocktail-bar-style Elvis Presley ballad, “Love Me Tender.”
Anderson’s music wasn’t the only thing that pushed Tendler beyond simple keyplay. “Inheritance,” by Ted Hearne, had Tendler lightly brushing the strings inside the piano in silent disturbances, like flashes of memory. Another piece, “hushing”, by inti figgis-vizueta, made great use of reverb, and also had a wonderfully odd moment, where Tendler wrapped a rope around the piano strings and pulled them out of back and forth, creating a strange sound.
The recorded sound has also found its way into the evening in some places. Pamela Z’s “Thank You So Much” had a delightfully chaotic energy, with its piano interlacing, Tendler’s talking vocals, and samples of her vocals from the Internet.
Many of the pieces deviated quite far from what could be considered a traditional melody, and yet they still carried an emotional charge. Scott Wollschleger’s “Outsider Song” carried with it the sound of haunting whispers, with a choppy, muted tone. Towards the end, he also evoked the sound of church bells. John Glover’s “In The City of Shy Hunters” sounded almost like an elegy, with a leisurely beat.
Minnesota and New York-based Mary Prescott’s “What It Becomes” balanced levity with dissonance. The chords folded in on themselves, as if reconfiguring themselves through repetition and adjustment. There was an almost jazzy quality to the piece which, like many of the works on the program, had a sense of research.
Tendler did not present any of the plays and only spoke in the context of works that incorporated spoken text as part of the play. “We don’t need to take care of this garden. These are wildflowers. by Darian Donavan Thomas included extensive amounts of text written by Tendler about his experience of loss. Not close to his father, Tendler talked about mourning the possibility of a relationship more than one that was actually happening.
Tendler’s ability to be vulnerable continued in both his storytelling and his acting. As a performer, he had an openness that took the audience on the journey of grief.
- What: Liquid Music Presents Julianna Barwick: Healing is a Miracle
- When: 8 p.m. on Friday, May 13
- Or: Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis
- Tickets: $25-50
- Capsule: Liquid Music’s upcoming concert will feature songwriter, singer and producer Julianna Barwick performing music from her 2020 album Healing Is A Miracle. French electronic musician Malibu opens.