I heard the online premiere of a solo piano piece by Pascal Le Boeuf on April 6, 2021 (it was streamed live online the night before). It was a concert produced by the New World Symphony featuring pianist Thomas Steigerwald. There were other pieces on the program, but I was only interested in Pascal’s piece (full disclosure: he’s a friend of mine). His piece starts at 44:38. Unfortunately the audio appeared to not be working at the start of the piece.
The piece is called “I Am Not a Number” and was inspired by the contemporary problem of having every aspect of our lives turned into measurable data. It’s a 12-tone piece and he built it on a series of perfect fourths. It’s thrilling! Very busy, often a little frantic, but never what I would describe as “ants in your pants,” busyness for the sake of busyness. One section early in the piece has the left hand going mental while the right hand plays something more lyrical, a fascinating combination. Later the central theme is played in its purest form, quietly, slowly, in octaves, with a sort of halo. This leads to a melancholy section, lovely and meaningful. This is followed by something of a similar character to the opening, developed in an intriguing way. I get the feeling the piece is difficult to play but very much worth the effort. It seemed that Steigerwald had a fun time playing it.
The piece does what I like best - - it’s intellectually stimulating but also rewarding to listen to, with a sure sense of pacing and drama. Also, and this is key: it’s NOT TOO LONG.
Pascal makes some remarks after the piece, explaining that in addition to the cultural theme I explained before, the piece is also inspired by a British TV series called *The Prisoner.* My friends Diane and Kregg are into this show, it tickled me to see it referenced in a new piece of music.