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The Politics of Poetry. Piano Hero (2011/2017) by Stefan Prins

Anne Holzmüller

Nuove Musiche Numero 5 - 2018, pagine: 13-32
DOI 10.12871/9788833395372 | @ Pisa University Press 2021
Pubblicato: 20 settembre 2021


Piano Hero #1-4 (2011/2017) is a cycle of four piano pieces by the Belgian composer Stefan Prins. The cycle addresses the question of the correlations between technological progress and society through a connection between sounds and video, each of which is reconfigured in the four pieces. In this article I want to argue that Prins does not choose a conceptual approach in the classical sense, but a metapoetic one, insofar as the music itself – meaning its sounds as well as the technologies, agents and practices involved – remains the key medium of reflection. In this way one could say Prins remains true to the formalist aesthetics of the traditional piano cycle to a certain extent, but at the same time gains a socio-political dimension from it.

In the first section of this article, I try to approach the four pieces analytically from a structural as well as from a phenomenological perspective. In the second part I want to develop an interpretative take on the metapoetic texture of the piece by approaching it through five different motifs each of which occupies an essential aesthetic and reflective role within the cycle. These motifs are (1) the role of technology, (2) the role of the sound and music on a conceptual level, (3) the mirror as both a structural and a conceptual motive, (4) immersion as an experiential quality and an object of reflection and (5) the reflective mode of a meta-poetic perspective.

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