Kai Schumacher - Insomnia (Haensler Classic, 2015)

Piano music by Gershwin, Cage, Crumb, Belet, Stark

"Insomnia is the story of a nocturnal odyssey, soothing and disturbing at the same time, mystical and unpredictable. It is the flight from ourselves to the warmth and security of the night, which ultimately leads deeper into our inmost selves. Insomnia is the aimless tumble of a sleepless person through an inner and an outer world that remains hidden from a sound sleeper, through inner and outer worlds which remains hidden during the harsh light of day.

Insomnia is five Hymns to the Night, composed by five American composers over a period of nearly 100 years. While at first glance, they may seem stylistically very different, when taken together; these five works are the perfect soundtrack for a journey through the long hours after the sun has set.

At the center of this journey stands A Little Midnight Music, George Crumb's adaptation of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Standard 'Round Midnight. He leads his listeners and performers past the neon signs of the New York jazz clubs of the 1940s into the oppressive darkness of the avant-garde pianist. Sleepless Night and Urban Nocturnes by Bruce Stark not only reference jazz, and are the outgrowth of the composer's long-standing interest in improvisation. In George Gershwin short Prelude we can almost imagine the clinking of glasses at last call. John Cage's Dream and Brian Belet's Summer Phantoms - Nocturne function as the album's centerpieces and provide a pair of contrasting soundtracks for nightly inner escapism.


To describe Kai Schumacher as a "punk pianist" would be excessive. His deeply thoughtful style of playing blurs the boundaries of the classical avant-garde and pop culture without getting stuck in all-too-familiar crossover paths. One focus of Kai Schumacher's solo repertoire has been on American piano music of the late 20th and the 21st centuries. His debut album of Frederic Rzewski's monumental variation cycle The people united will never be defeated! (2010) was celebrated by FonoForum magazine as "a pianistic sensation". With his second album Transcriptions (2013), he ventured into the musical heroes of his youth - Rage against the machine, Nirvana, Slayer, etc., transforming the concert grand in his piano remixes into a tone generator of monstrous proportions, sound effects board or a set of tuned percussion instruments."

Out in June 2015

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