George Flynn – Derus Simples

George Flynn
Derus Simples
(Southport – 2001)
  by John Barrett

The philosopher Kenneth Derus uses the term “simples” to denote a basic unit of memory, isolated from other components. A solo piano work dedicated to Derus, this suite works with plain chords, stretching them into themes without changing their simplicity. The chord which opens Part One is bitter, with a rather tense sound; this quickly evolves, in harplike arpeggios. At first rippling upward, the theme is answered by deep slams; both ends of the instrument are explored at once. Part Two is percussive, and balances silence with fast flurries. Moving up the scale, these bursts of energy become tranquil in Part Three, jagged in Part Four. The chords become strident, hammering at rigid intervals; suddenly it turns calm, and the notes wander.

It flows like a continuous song: the ideas remain constant, in variations of increasing subtlety. A stark theme begins in Part Five, and continues through severals ections – the mood is gentle but the harmonies are harsh. (It’s reminiscent of Flynn’s last album Trinity,with a less violent sound.) The blunt rhythm of Part Eight reminds me of Conlon Nancarrow; it’s a growing fury, taking several minutes to boil. The stillness briefly returns, then is drowned in pulsating low chords; this intensifies in Part Twelve, which will rattle your ears. High chords join the stew in Part Thirteen, and then they run fast – leaping as if between skyscrapers. Soon it’s all high notes, surrounded by silence … and it slowly grows soft. Part Sixteen is a series of rippling echoes, slowing down in Part Seventeen, and the work ends with the same chord that opened it. That’s a nice symmetry for this challenging piece … and quite simple.