Werner Heisenberg formulated the uncertainty principle in the late 1920s, which for the sake of a music review can briefly be summarised as the theoretical proof that some fundamental things are unknowable. It is a model which provides solace to the German pianist and composer Clemens Christian Poetzsch, who attempts with Chasing Heisenberg to make peace with the concept that the core tenet that underpins his artistry – inspiration, the desire to be great – is an unknowable force beyond the limits of his control.
Across the record, Poetzsch may not get to the bottom of the uncertainty principle of his own music, but what he does do is demonstrate why the question is worth asking. Clarity and warmth are paramount on Chasing Heisenberg, these Steinway D concert grand piano solo recordings magnificently simple in their presentation.
‘Helle Welten’ is enchanting but not delicate: this is no fey, post-Satie, prettiness-for-prettiness’ sake ivory-tickling, this is honestly captured, robust melodic composition. ‘Belvedere’ is made up of tripping, gallivanting keys, as if we are clambering up a hill, desperate to clasp eyes on the ravishing view over the brow. It could be the score to that heart-pumping moment of triumph in a classic coming-of-age film. If that track flutters, then ‘Zwei Funken’ is almost hyperventilating, a breathless chase, the jitters of young love overtaking the two sparks of the title.
‘Anmut’ is a neat counterpoint, a restrained, spacious performance, while on ‘Im Vertrauen’, we hear Poetzsch in smoky jazz club mode, playing a maudlin, reflective number that sounds like it should be wafting up through the grill covers from an illicit basement bar and into the rainy streets above. Just occasionally the clarity of emotional intention does become unclear, as on ‘Die Unschaerfe’, which appropriately translates as ‘The Blur’. Poetzsch sounds uncertain, at times hopeful and at others fearful. There is a lot happening, the piece recreating that uneasy state of a mind that cannot switch off at night.
The loosest, most explorative and sidewinding track is ‘Flimmern’, where Poetzsch wanders furthest from his central melodic core, building to a rousing, adrenalised climax. He has stated that he wanted to explore the junction where improvisation and composition meet on ‘Chasing Heisenberg’, and while only he can know, the impression is that he has tapped into a liquid relationship with his instrument, a mastery that allows him to deviate and divert at any time, secured by the knowledge that he will always be able to feel his way back home.
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