Review: M. Ostermeier – Tiny Birds

homen071 M. Ostermeier - Tiny BirdsOstermeier’s piano melodies refrain from excess. Their allure doesn’t reside in ornamental detail or the presence of intricate little trills, but for the elegant slopes that carry one chord into another. The self-conscious hesitations and sentimental indulgence that dictate when a note is depressed, and for how long. They are the emotional ore of what Ostermeier wishes to convey, stripped to a state of sincerity. I become hyper-aware of how one melancholic harmony invites a cascade of progressively sadder tones, like a dreary thought unravelled into its chain of inevitable implication. I acknowledge the moments of emphasis; the chords that act as dramatic full stops or suspended questions, resonating into the open air before them, inviting me to respond.

In fact, open air forms a huge part of Tiny Birds. As well as illuminating the intricacies of his own playing, Ostermeier’s minimal approach invites the ears to wander away from the piano; out to the edges of the frame where objects are noisily handled, or where violins surge in and out like passing planes. The piano stops and I’m left to explore. I hear tiny hums of electronics that I wouldn’t have heard otherwise. Occasionally, I hear those unintentional whirrs of electronic equipment, or the un-gated rustle of people and environment; the details that settle upon the music like dust or shadows, as uninvited but inevitable guests. In fact, when Ostermeier’s foot lifts away from the sustain pedal during “Nesting” – leaving just the crinkle of pebbles and tiny droplets of synth – I imagine that he is listening too, forever calibrating his performance to better align with the changes in his surroundings, remaining a porous and pliable component of the world that respires and rustles around him.