Heretic Threads

Heretic Threads (Cover)I’ve been listening to an intriguing new album.  It’s called Heretic Threads and it contains a most unusual treatment of three keyboard works by Haydn.  The three works are:

  • Sonata in F Major for fortepiano Hob XVI 23
  • Sonata in E Minor for fortepiano Hob XVI 34
  • Fantasia in C Major Hob XVI 4

The treatment is that each is first played on fortepiano by Boyd McDonald.  Then there’s a version for accordion by Joseph Petric.  Finally composer and recording engineer Peter Lutek has created an electronic piece by sampling and processing excerpts from the fortepiano and accordion versions.

The pianoforte version, recorded in First Unitarian Church in Waterloo in 2021, shows McDonald’s mastery of this music.  There’s a lot of rhythmic freedom in his playing and a fair bit of attack.  It feels like the almost instant decay of notes of the fortepiano allows him to be more emphatic than one could on a pianoforte before it would start to sound muddy and confused.  This recording is spacious and crystal clear.

Te accordion version, recorded in Peter Lutek’s studio in Toronto, also in 2021 is really interesting.  Checking the track timings, it’s mostly slightly faster than McDonald but it sounds much faster.  I suspect that this is precisely because notes don’t decay on the accordion in the same way that they do on fortepiano.  In any event it’s most excellent playing and throws a very different light onto the music.  It’s also very well recorded.

Lutek’s piece is called Sintering.  If you are at all familiar with this sort of composition you’ll know pretty much what to expect.  Some of the samples are longish and at normal speed, others are much more heavily processed and/or shorter creating sounds that aren’t immediately obviously taken from the two recordings.  They are combined in interesting ways.  Sometimes it creates its own sound world, other times it’s as if there is a dialogue of sorts between fortepiano and accordion.  It’s also spatially complex.  At times accordion will be on the right channel and fortepiano on the left and at other times the spatial relationships are different.  It’s probably worth listening o headphones to get the full  effect.

It’s a 2 CD package available as standard physical CD (44.1kHz/16bit) or in a variety of digital formats.  The documentation is extensive and informative.

It’s released on Astrila records who don’t seem to do catalogue numbers but both physical and digital versions can be bought here.

This is a really intriguing project by some very fine Canadian musicians.


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