CD review

Elliot Galvin – “Live in Paris at Fondation Louis Vuitton”

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Elliot Galvin – Live in Paris at Fondation Louis Vuitton
(Edition Records EDN1146. CD review by Adrian Pallant)

One man, one piano… and an inspiring venue for the singular genius of Elliot Galvin – the elegant yet angular architecture of Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, and its steel-and-mirror interior (Inside the horizon by Olafur Eliasson), ingeniously integrated into the album-cover graphics of this live, solo recording.

Galvin has, relatively early on in his career, already identified the boundless pianistic individuality of his methods. In studio albums and live performances with his own piano trio and Laura Jurd’s Mercury-nominated band Dinosaur, he explores his domain widely and to great effect: Hammond organ, synths, accordion, melodica, Stylophone, toy piano, cassette player… you name it. But what happens when creative ‘fripperies’ are stripped away? Well, live on stage and entirely improvising at the grand piano, Galvin’s assuredness, technique and continuity are fascinating throughout this performance.

In instantly rollercoasting As Above (imagery recalling the Dreamland debut trio album of 2014), he invites us to ride his chromatic world of scurrying runs and reverberating La Cathédrale engloutie-like depths, always with the skill to counter breathless chaos with spacial, spangled ambience; and towards its close, low hand-dampened ‘duhhs’ offer a glimpse of prepared-piano details to follow. Indeed, Time and Everything’s plucked highlights (which he executes deftly) are accompanied by the unsettling glissandi of a steel marble upon the strings, before satisfying, deep chord clusters are pitched against a repeated single-note rhythm. And inside two and half minutes, Galvin’s humour shines in an irascible, reluctant-to-resolve Coda – the piano does (quietly) submit!

The simple, fugal opening of For J.S. breaks loose into sprawling, contrapuntal mischief with a beautiful lightness of touch, underpinned by Ravelian warmth – might that be a car horn echoing around the Arc de Triomphe? And starlit, folksong-like Broken Windows is so sensitively crafted over the faintest sustained-string drone that it somehow stirs emotion towards its soft close.

Olafur Eliasson describes his striking, permanent art at Fondation Louis Vuitton in this way: “For me, the horizon is not a line, it’s a dimension. Questioning one’s own horizon requires us to question linearity and create a new horizon.” Elliot Galvin, too, takes a ‘line’ – the familiarity of an acoustic piano’s sound and structure – and fashions it into an original, multi-faceted dimension of wonder.

For the ball-bearing-bouncing, case-cracking, foot-stamping entertainment of final track So Below alone (imaginable as an extended, piano-concerto cadenza like no other), it’s most definitely worth your ears.

The album is released on 24 January and is launched at Kings Place on Friday 21 February at 8.00pm.

LINK: Video Time and Everything

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