A new piano icon – this is how Fred Frith describes Katharina Weber. For almost thirty years now the classically educated pianist and composer moves within the world of New Music and Improvisation. The CD Woven Time is Katharina Weber’s debut as a solo pianist. These 15 improvisations with their colourful velvety timbre produce a beautiful atmosphere. Some pieces call up associations with Early Romanticism, others remind of György Kurtág or Galina Ustvolskaya. Katharina Weber’s music roams in the huge world of today’s music where borders no longer exist and where New Music and jazz improvisation melt into each other.
Who benefits more each time a gifted instrumentalist with a deep classical background like pianist Katarina Weber makes the jump to improvised music, classical music or improvised music? It’s a close call, which is not to suggest that albums like Woven Time are anything but vista-expanding for adherents of improvised music. Weber’s example makes a solid case that composers from Robert Schumann to the Second Viennese and New York schools provide improvisers with tool kits as comprehensive and pragmatic as any that’s brought to extemporaneous music-making. Still, for every moment where Weber’s nuanced touch and approach to harmonic development has the residue of her classical background, there are an equal number without discernable antecedents. It’s the specific mix of moments of laying solid foundations and bouncing on spindly limbs that distinguishes Weber’s music. She elicits unexpected colors from methods like playing unison lines played in the opposite extremities of the keyboard, or letting single pianissimo notes totally decay before playing another. Her temperament is hard to pin down – in a way, she’s boldly neutral, which accounts for the lack of melodrama in her roiling forte passages, and the absence of pat lyricism in her more subdued moments. The imperatives of interpretation gleaned from her classical training still figure in her sensibility. That’s why classical music benefits almost as much as improvised music from Weber’s impressive debut – it is elevated from a closed genre to a practice that can lead anywhere. Bill Shoemaker, Pointofdeparture, Issue 23 - June 2009
The album title is regrettable, implying something more abstract and (dare one say it?) feminine. As a highly experienced classical player, Weber has a huge technical resource, and an instinct for form that translates surely to improvised situations; if, that is, these 15 short pieces are, indeed, spontaneous and not pre-composed to some degree. Weber has a forceful left hand and most of the playing emerges out of dark, woody territory, like the sinuous Spiegelfläche or the limpid Sicht aus dem Kopfstand, which flirts with silence. There are sounds which imply some kind of extended technique, preparation or “inside” work, but they are so seamlessly woven (damn!) into the fabric one simply accepts them as part of Weber’s immediately distinctive language. After 30 years, a debut record as solo artist: worth the wait.
Brian Morton, Jazz Journal, UK, August 2009
Back we go to the world of willfully aleatoric music with a solo CD, from pianist Katharina Weber. The liner notes suggest that she has crossed over into the Dark Side of improvisation from the world of Classical music and I can readily believe that given the results on this recording which display her assured technical command of the instrument. In the manner of many contemporary Classical composers, she drastically limits her available materials for each piece to a chord or an interval and relentlessly manipulates her starting germ to reveal every last permutation and logical facet she can wring from it. This gives the music structure and generally imbues each selection with its own identity—something not always found with this sort of all-improvised approach where all too often musicians recycle their own personal clichés and gestural inclination
through several tracks. Indeed there is an apparent form and logical cohesiveness through many tracks that might surprise a listener who didn’t know they were listening to an unpremeditated improvisation. Weber is helped in this by having both an enviable technique and a fine Bösendorfer at her disposal and she knows how to use it. This is good stuff and held my attention and I suspect it will hold yours too. Recommended.
David Kane, Cadence, USA, Oct-Nov-Dec 2009
released February 1, 2009
Katharina Weber: Piano
Music by Katharina Weber (SUISA). Recorded at Olaf-Åsteson-Haus in Hinterfultigen by Andreas Meier, GGN-Production Bern, December 27–29, 2007. Mixed and mastered by Andreas Meier and Katharina Weber. Liner notes: Lislot Frei and Fred Frith. Cover art: Christiane Lenz. Graphic design: Jonas Schoder. Photo: Francesca Pfeffer. Produced and published by Intakt Records, Patrik Landolt