The Words of Others
Simon Jenner, Writer/Critic, Brighton
St Nicholas Johan Allerfeldt, April 5th 2017
The twenty-five year old Johan Allerfeldt is about as different from a normal recital at St Nicholas as – well several others in this absorbing series.
Allerfeldt’s an improviser, in the tradition of Gabriele Montero and a few other pianists who touch what used to be called Third Stream. In Allerfeldt’s hands we’re sashayed into the world of Michael Nyman’s The Piano crossed with, particularly Philip Glass’s score for The Hours. Allerfeldt happily acknowledges the influence of this genre on one hand – particularly Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer – and jazz; he increasingly performs with others.
His technique’s seamless: rippling arpeggios, occasional broken chords, gentle octave leaps. Like the film music he too wants to write, there’s nothing to jump you out of a seamless unfolding. Unlike Glass and more like John Adams, another influence, Allerfeldt’s music continually unfolds. There’s modulation, gentle runs, syncopations – the odd blue note edges an elsewhere – but again it’s all harmonized. Tempis vary gradually, nothing upstages the evolving moment.
There’ aren’t titles for these, all being filmed for website promotion, though the first piece took half an hour; it had the church rapt (just as well). The second piece was by way of an encore, more lapidary, ruminant, anchored in a five minute episode. A quietly exhilarating breath from an opening door. It’s inviting, certainly repeatable.
Johan is an extraordinary and intuitive pianist. His improvisation work, in response to the emotions invoked in stories, added richness and contrast to a storytelling and was enjoyed by everyone.
Lisa Schneidau, Storyteller, Gidleigh