Vijay Iyer: Mutations

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 00:00



Vijay Iyer



Despite its reputation for new European music, the ECM label has always been a place where adventurous Americans can find a sympathetic ear. Pianist Vijay Iyer wrote the suite for string quartet, piano and electronics that forms the centrepiece of his impressive debut for Manfred Eicher’s label back in 2005, but has waited until now to record it. Rather than conventional dots on paper, Iyer – himself an accomplished violinist – primes his musicians with what he calls a “gesture palette of notated material” that introduces chance and mutation into the music, aided and abetted by the composer at the piano and operating a laptop. If that all sounds drily intellectual, the results are startlingly fresh and ear-opening, and the piano pieces that bookend the suite are the work of a pianist with a clear and authoritative voice.