Salon des Amateurs is the most playful modern classical recording I’ve heard in years. Utilizing the prepared piano in a noticeably percussive fashion Dusseldorf’s Hauschka (née Volker Bertelmann) has crafted an album that in rather stark contrast to last year’s Foreign Landscapes is downright fun. Essentially Salon takes Bertelmann’s lexicon of prepared piano settings into house/techno music territory utilizing numerous percussive sounds and a wide-range of affected piano timbres so as to combine modern classical with techno. This might read like a kitschy exercise in merging opposed genres but Bertelmann’s instrumental voice is too strong to be lumped in with such novelty — Salon grooves with an electronic undercurrent but maintains the intellectual elegance generally found within modern classical music.
Tracks such as “Girls” and “Cube” exemplify what’s so appealing about Salon — the tracks are energetic rich in depth and intriguingly put together. Bertelmann’s wide array of non-traditional piano sound remains the most central draw but the arrangements flesh out an active and overly vivacious atmosphere. Delightfully fun and creative — and without any self-consciously “quirky” parts — Salon des Amateurs is a more than pleasant left-field surprise.