Karlheinz Essl

whatever shall be

for toy piano, gadgets and live-electronics


Look and Listen Festival (Bruce Hodges)

(...) Chen gave the New York premiere of Karlheinz Essl’s Whatever Shall Be, which adds electronics and a music box to expand the toy piano’s appealingly constricted range. Near the end, the music box is lowered inside, onto the sounding board, where the oddly distorted strains of “Que Sera, Sera…” seemed like the epitome of an aural experiment gone right.

Found Objects and Other Percussive Items (Allan Kozinn)
in: The New York Times (9 May 2010)

(...) And Ms. Chen gave energetic accounts of three short but dazzling toy piano pieces — Fabian Svensson’s swirling “Toy Toccata,” Andrián Pertout’s microtonal and occasionally gamelan-tinged “Pi (Obstruction)” and Karlheinz Essl’s “Whatever Shall Be,” a work for toy piano and tape that the composer said was based (though you could hear it only in fleeting rhythms) on the old Doris Day hit, “Que Sera, Sera.”

Look and Listen Festival (Audrey Hawkins)
in: TIME FOR TEA - Art and Illustration (11 May 2010)

Next, Phyllis Chen played three pieces on the toy piano, and if you think that sounds cutesy, then just check out the drawing I made of her while she played. "Intense!" is what I wrote there on the side, and she and the pieces she played definitely are. While you might think the sound of the toy piano is sweet and tinkly, Chen's approach is more like an attack and she really fights that sweetness to create some surprising and stirring music. She debuted a piece by Karlheinz Essl, here where she reaches into the piano to stir the strings. A microphone inside the piano fed the sound into a computer which gave it back as an echo, a reverberation, a memory?

Audrey Hawkins: Phyllis Chen performing Karlheinz Essl's piece "whatever shall be"

Phyllis Chen performing Karlheinz Essl's whatever shall be
Text and drawing © by Audrey Hawkins 2010

Drawing music: Look & Listen Festival (Julia Sverchuk)
in: iDrawing (11 May 2010)

A premiere of "Whatever Shall Be" (2010), written by a Viennese composer Karlheinz Essl for toy piano, gadgets, live-electronics and surround sound, followed. Here he is, recording the performance of the beautiful pianist Phyllis Chen (...) with her legs in lotus position, sitting on a silk pillow, playing a serious, complex piece on a...toy piano. She banged the keys so hard, it made me wonder how many of these toy pianos she goes through in one year. "14", she said in an interview that followed. I loved whatever shall be and want hear it again.

Julia Sverchuk: Phyllis Chen performing Karlheinz Essl's piece "whatever shall be"

Phyllis Chen performing Karlheinz Essl's whatever shall be
Text and drawing © by Julia Sverchuk 2010

12 O'Clock Track: Phyllis Chen transcends the toyness of her instruments on "The Little Things" (Peter Margasak)
in: Chicago Reader (1 Jan 2014)

(...) The Little Things covers lots of ground, including the (...) almost brutal machinations of Karlheiz Essl's Whatever Shall Be.

Whatever Shall Be. Music for Toy Instruments and Electronics (Dirk Wieschollek)
in: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 02/2014 (Schott: Mainz 2014)

(...) Diese gelungenen Symbiosen von instrumentalem «Low Tech» und digitaler Transformation erreichen ihren Höhepunkt im titelgebenden whatever shall be für Spielzeugklavier, Kreisel, Spieluhr und Live-Elektronik (2010). Da rotieren Kreisel im Innern des «Klaviers», werden per Fingerhut Glissandi auf den Metallstäben fabriziert und überhaupt der gesamte Korpus perkussiv einbezogen, bevor am Ende die Spieluhr "Que sera, sera" anstimmt: Alles Vorige war nämlich bis zur Unkenntlichkeit extrahiertes Material des Filmmusikklassikers...

Toy Piano Translated by Victor Trescoli Sanz (Jackie)
in: Toy Piano World (9 May 2014)

SPC: Which is your favorite work at the moment?
Victor Trescoli Sanz: Whatever Shall Be by Karlheinz Essl, one of the most interesting composers for toy piano. The piece is very captivating and offers a huge view of the possibilities of combining the toy piano with live audio processing. I have played it so many times and every time that I do I am waiting for the next time that I can perform it.

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Updated: 11 May 2014