Johanna Doderer: “Everything Flows”

Sheet Music Review

“Alles fließt” – “Everything Flows” – is a virtuoso piano piece which was commissioned for the International Beethoven Piano Competition 2017, and first performed during its opening by Christoph Traxler.

When reviewing new music, it always helps to have a recording; and if it happens to be accompanied by an arty film of a man wearing just his underpants having an existential meltdown in a remote forest (see below) … well, so be it.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you more about this rather wonderful new concert work, just published by Doblinger…

Johanna Doderer

Johanna Doderer is a contemporary Austrian composer, born in Bregenz in 1969 and now based in Vienna.

Doderer studied film and media composition with Beat Furrer in Graz and subsequently with Erich Urbanner in Vienna and with Klaus Peter Sattler. Her music, which includes opera, chamber and orchestral music, has been interpreted by internationally successful artists worldwide.

After years of exploring contemporary music techniques, she has developed her own language, which does not exclude tonality.

Doderer’s music has won much recognition and many awards, including the Ernst Krenek Prize, the highest honour that the city of Vienna awards in this field.

Everything Flows…

Everything Flows is an immediately captivating nine-minute composition which would make a stunning climax to any recital programme, and in my view deserves to be adopted and performed to a wide audience.

Although modernist in many respects, the piece is scored using conventional notation, and on first glance certainly appears approachable. Further exploration, and in particular a realisation of the tempo, reveals the performing challenges to be more formidable.

According to the composer,

“The title Everything Flows reflects the musical themes flowing into each other.”

The triplet quaver motif which opens the work, evocative of running water, provides the seed for much of the material which follows, giving the work thematic unity and affording the listener an easily identifiable hook.

The development of this motif and its integration with other musical ideas is accomplished utilising techniques from contemporary minimalism alongside older concepts of counterpoint, and often interspersed with virtuosic flourishes.

The composition has a taut structure which unfolds with considerable skill and invention towards its apparently heroic ending in a resounding E major tonality.

Pantha Rhei

The heroic ending, however, takes on a rather different meaning when accompanied by the music video that appears on YouTube. Here it would seem to be The Flow (“Pantha Rhei”) which triumphs over the human spirit, rather than any Nietzschen superhero transcending nature.

According to its producers,

“The short film “Alles fließt” is a music video inspired by Doderer’s composition. The story contains elements of the Greek philosophy “Pantha Rhei” but is open to free interpretation. This film is the second project produced by the young film-duo Sebastian Kubelka and Patrick Doderer, who go under the alias “music in motion”…”

The film includes a full performance of the work by its original exponent Christian Traxler. And I should mention that the actor is one Augustin Groz. Here it is:

The symbiosis between music and film here is certainly striking, and adds new, more explicit meaning to Doderer’s composition, even if the film is itself somewhat ambiguous.

The Edition

Ludwig Doblinger is an independent Austrian publisher with an impressive catalogue of solo classical piano music, mostly contemporary. These publications are distributed worldwide by Universal Edition.

The front cover is both classy and striking, and printed on gorgeous textured card:



Within, the pages are an off-white colour. Aside from the brief introduction quoted above, the score takes up the remainder of the publication.

Notation is cleanly presented and well spaced. The composer’s pedal marks are included, but there are no fingering suggestions. Doderer gives plenty of dynamic detail, but little in the way of articulation.

Conclusion

We are often rightly reminded of the importance of performing new classical works, but it can be hard to sift through so many worthy contenders. Here, I think, is a brilliant concert work that genuinely deserves our attention.

You’ve hopefully watched the video, heard Traxler’s stunning performance, and will by now have an idea of whether this piece is for you.

If you are interested, then it helps that Doblinger’s score is unimpeachable, and beautifully presented.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Available to order via Universal Edition or from Doblinger here.


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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.

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