Keyboard Duo Week Continues: Timothy Andres

Timothy Andres
Shy and Mighty
Nonesuch CD

One of the discs that’s been in heavy rotation here this month is the Nonesuch debut from composer/pianist Timothy Andres. Joined by pianist David Kaplan, Andres presents ten of his piano duo pieces on the disc. They are an impressive pairing, performing with lock step precision and concomitant fluidity.

Andres displays a wide range of influences. “Antenna” combines swaths of flowing 80s-tinged minimalism set against a thunderous section of Ivesian syncopated octaves. The latter gradually morph into a coda out of John Adams’ playbook. “Pavane (pour une compositeur defunt)” recalls a host of Impressionists, even quoting the watershed Debussy prelude “The Sunken Cathedral.” But these watercolored sonorities quickly give away to a jazzier ambience, deliciously complicating matters. “The Night Jaunt” supplies frequent Stravinskyian signatures, from jaunty ostinati to octatonicism.

Despite the readily appreciable stylistic touchstones on Shy and Mighty, Andres never seems to be overwhelmed by his influences. Rather, he crafts a postmodern melange of thoughtful, often exciting, music. He also reclaims the piano duo as a vital, vibrant medium; one with implications of the orchestra, but delightful on its own.

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