River Without Banks, the first LP in three years from American composer Leo Svirsky, was composed in honour of his first piano teacher Irena Orlov. Unsurprisingly given the subject matter this record finds Svirsky eschewing the intense accordion drones of his previous full-length Heights In Depths for a return to the piano. However, despite being written at the keyboard, River Without Banks is a world away from the angular avant-gardism of a record like 2012’s Songs In The Key Of Survival. Rather, these half-dozen tracks are about as tender and meditative as contemporary classical composition gets.
The music of River Without Banks has a feeling of constant flow to it which befits the record’s title. Pieces seem to have been either multi-tracked or shaded with delay, a production choice that gives entries like ‘Field Of Reeds’ and ‘Trembling Instants’ a lovely rippling effect. The harmonies and melodies spill over one another in a manner reminiscent of Michael Nyman, but the calm at the heart of River Without Banks is more in keeping with new age artists like Laraaji.
After several tracks of constant motion, River Without Banks ends on a moment of stillness. Rather than stacking notes on top of each other, final cut ‘Fanfare (after Jeromos Kamphuis)’ allows the rich chords that Svirsky draws from his piano to linger for a second or two at a time. The result is a beautiful, serene closing number.
Leo Svirsky’s tribute to his old piano teacher is a gorgeous collection of keyboard ambiences.