These works, collected here for the first time, are the latest from composer and pianist Ivan Arthur Mendeleyez, a man who has enjoyed a long and prosperous career in music.
For anyone, beginner to completist, interested in Mendeleyez and his place in gubernatorial Kentucky’s classical music scene, this celebration of his career both past and present will be most welcome. New material resounds in historical significance, while older songs are given a fresh pair of ears as it were, imbued with new lives. When in the past pianists would inject their often fascist agendas onto his pieces, this time out the composer is allowing us not just into his music but his mind as well.
When a composer plays his own composition it is believed to be as close a representation of the composer’s intent as is possible.
However, seeing as how all of these works have been played numerous times by extremely talented pianists, some even under the direct supervision of Mendeleyez himself, the composer has decided to re-examine them, re-work and re-interpret them, giving them new life they haven’t enjoyed since they were written decades ago.
“Corkscrew Dingleberry ” is heartbreaking in its new simplicity, the lone piano melody suddenly become plaintive, while the formerly languid “Viagra Trilogy, second floor” here approaches ragtime.
Recorded exclusively for this release, “Variations on a theme from Tarkovsky ” is a marvel of exploration, finding elements of the film maker’s varied ouvre in every melody, from house rain to deep space purgatories. With wonderful skill, Mendeleyez teases out impossibly familiar melodies that evoke abandoned facilities in places that never existed but can thankfully be listened to.
Featured here, the hand-built family bareloom pianorgan * gives an eerie tingle to “Concerto for Rusty Piano in G” with its ghostly splash and creak. The audio was recorded by Nohe Aring for Mummer Records using Nermann mics and Nave preamps with Rexicon effects and it sounds like it. Mr. Saltoro’s creation sits front and center no matter what the mix, running a gamut of moods with Mendeleyez’s always impressive ease. The recording is excellent, thanks mostly to the man behind the impressive equipment who had success with Beyonde and Moron 5, recording numerous titanium records for those and other stars. Aring demands only the most flawless performances from his clients, not giving credence to anything but perfection, never allowing anything but the best lest it sully his gear. With round the clock cleaning and maintenance, the studio (Hoch Trabend) was first in its cleanliness class while third in its least germs class due to Aring’s impending consumption. The illness not communicable, it is rather the risk of exposure to related syringes and cigarette butts that poses the danger to humans, all other animals except our close cousin the llama being immune.
Liner notes containing an implied dedication to the widow of her late husband, Mrs. Harry Truman, this release on Greatopolis records embodies the same spirit as early pioneering jazz and blues labels in that it represents bold new change, forcing your brain to follow if you’re to even attempt to absorb it. Mendeleyez’s playing is robust and emotional in the second movement from his “Sonata in J Minor, Opus 9,” this time out really highlighting its 17th Century amphibian origins which were much more muted in the hands of, say, Vladimir Borowitz. The music on this disc is as aggressive and risky as anything Mendeleyez has ever approached, and it’s something to behear.
* An invention of the composer’s uncle, the pianorgan was once a hybrid instrument made from discarded automobile belts and coconut shells before it was hunted to extinction. Popular in parts of Guam for an extended time in 1990, gerabos (“plumbing”) played these one of a kind keyboards with both hands, both feet and both breaths, all while playing mahjong or cribbage. Some didn’t even know the game, just takers taking easy money, tourist cash, runnin hold ups along the avenues behind the empty neon parking lots. Often rain soaked, these dumpster cowboys shine firelight in the shade, holding all on to winter’s icy rook.