Vancouver-based pianist/composer Nathan Shubert has been a sought-after sideman and session player for over a decade, bringing his harmonic inventiveness and intelligent dynamism to artists such as No Sinner, David Newberry, Jody Glenham, and Rich Hope.
Switching focus to his own work, Shubert challenged himself to work towards new solo pianos piece every day for six months. This intense and immersive period resulted in works that blend a muted physicality with an exceptional ear for beauty. Expressive and accessible, Nathan wrote these pieces purely for the pleasure and beauty inherent in them, not as exercises in composerly rigor or pianistic dexterity. Free of external meanings, the pieces take on their own deeply implicit, wordless significance.
Recorded over two and a half days with co-producer Spencer Carson (Fader Master Studios), these are quiet works that evoke a small, intimate space, far from the grandly reverberant, concert hall style of many piano recordings. With the piano strings gently muted by strips of felt, the mechanical operations of the piano—tiny pedal thuds, the clack of the hammers—are emphasized over resonance. This foregrounds a tactile and percussive layer that a more sonorous recording would obscure. With the microphones running hot, we also hear the composer’s breathing and feel the very air in the room.
Nathan’s engaged and empathic take on contemporary classical draws inspiration from the rhythmic layering of Lubomyr Melnyk and 18 Musicians-era Steve Reich, the delicate beauty of Erik Satie, and the harmonic range and unconventional recording techniques of Nils Frahm.
At once deeply personal and highly relatable, Nathan Shubert’s new instrumental works are understated, quietly propulsive, and uncommonly poetic.