09 20 Oct '24
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Martin Kohlstedt x Son of the White Mare

Edition 2022 Videodroom
The German experimental pianist-composer Martin Kohlstedt creates a range of ‘modules’, his musical equivalent of words. The arrangement of these building blocks – and thus of his musical conversation – is influenced by his emotions, the vibe of the audience and the general atmosphere in the room. As a result, no two live concerts are the same: a module never sounds the same twice and is never followed by the same module. Improvisation is thus an integral part of Kohlstedt’s work – in most cases, he doesn’t even have a set list. ‘It is vital that I do not fall into a routine. I always seek to do something new and creative,’ says Kohlstedt. And he means it.

With his modular compositions, Kohlstedt gives a new dimension to classical music. So it’s not surprising that a few years ago he was asked to give a TEDx Talk about it.
For Kohlstedt, who grew up in the forests of Thuringia, it’s the spontaneity of modular music that he likes in particular. Compositions can be added to, replaced or improved at any given time. He wrote ‘OLV’ at the age of fourteen, for example, but continues to hone this composition.

Live shows are perhaps even more important than studio albums for Kohlstedt. ‘An album is quite limiting for me,’ the pianist confesses. ‘It may contain only one version of a particular piece – often just the first version I think of. The development of the piece only begins after that, when I present it live and find out in what different tempos and keys the piece can be played.’
This is also the reason why Kohlstedt releases reworks of his albums. ‘TAG’, ‘NACHT’, ‘STROM’, ‘STRÖME’ and ‘FLUR’ and the accompanying ‘reworks’ have received international acclaim.

He wrote ‘FLUR’ (2020) – which cleverly combines grand piano, synthesizers and electronics – during the corona pandemic. And you can hear it: the atmosphere swings, in parallel with Kohlstedt’s inner world, between light and dark, fear and calm, the rational and the imaginary. From plaintive piano sounds (in the opener ‘LUN’), to the yearning for spring (in the fluttering ‘ZIN’, accompanied by birdsong), to restlessness (‘QUO’), drama (‘NOX’) and vulnerability (‘PAN’), ‘FLUR’ demonstrates the enormous range of tones that a master can get out of a single instrument.

Besides his own productions, Martin Kohlstedt composes scores for films, plays, podcasts and audio books; he runs his own record label and tries to live sustainably. He bought 1.2 hectares of land in Thuringia, which he is reforesting with the money from his ticket sales. A remarkable chap, it’s fair to say, and he’ll be providing the animated cult classic Son of the White Mare with a new score, live, as part of the VIDEODROOM programme.

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