Monday, 29 May 2017

Hans Otte - Das Buch der Klänge / Stundenbuch / Face à Face (2006 compi)

German composer Hans Otte (1926-2007) penned his masterwork for piano, Das Buch der Klänge (The Book Of Sounds) between 1979-82.  It's been recorded a few times since by other performers, but this is the composer's own reference recording from November 1983.  A comparison for starters might be Philip Glass' solo piano work, but it's The Book Of Sounds that I keep coming back to if I want to drift away to minimal piano heaven - it's just so much more satisfying.

Otte was particularly interested here in rediscovering the piano "as an instrument of timbre and tuneful sound with all its possibilities of dynamics, colour and resonance", and pretty much does so for 75 gorgeous minutes.  If I had to pick an oustanding favourite, it's Part 10, but the whole thing is best experienced together, at your leisure.

On this 2006 compilation, not only was Book Of Sounds presented for the first time on CD at full length (Parts 2 and 10 were snipped on old discs, presumably to stay under the 74-minute limit on early CDs), but also accompanied by Otte's other major piano work, Stundenbuch (The Book Of Hours) (1991-98), four books each holding twelve little minatures.  Musically, they're not quite as accessible as the Sounds pieces, and none of the 48 pieces last long enough to make a great impression, but taken together Hours is still an interesting experiment in harmonics and texture, that I sometimes listen to on shuffle to try and land on sections that I might have previously overlooked.  And stick around for the bonus at the very end of Disc 2 for a fine example of Otte's early avant-garde work - Face à Face (composed and recorded 1965) is an engrossing 15 minutes of percussive piano noises and tape manipulation.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy


  1. Nice, thank you.
    P.S. Will you ever move on to FLAC?

  2. Don't move to FLAC. Also thanks.

    1. ^^^ I have a slow connection so I am taking the Anti-FLAC stance as well.
      Keep doing what you're doing.

  3. Thanks Siph & Zag - the 'lossless question' has been in the back of my mind since before I started this blog. If I had a lot more time to spend on this blog, and a lot more storage space for backup, and if Mega allowed for larger free accounts, and if Zippy would lend itself better to large uploads.... I'd have no problem, and happily offer a lossless alternative for every post (bar the two or three entries where I don't own the CD or have used a radio stream-grabber).

    As things stand, no plans to go there in the immediate future, as I feel that 320kbps is acceptable enough quality and accessible to all - but if time allows I may go for a 'lossless on request' sort of thing - watch this space. If that becomes viable for me timewise, I'll do a post to announce it.

  4. love your blog!! looking forward to this unknown - you've turned me on to a lot of great stuff already - thank you!