When: Sun., Jan. 31, 5 p.m. 2016
R. Andrew Lee is a master of timing. While the Denver-based pianist’s handling of transitions between sound and silence makes the decay of a note as affecting as the moment when the sun dips below the horizon, the clarity of his long view ensures a piece’s coherence even when he’s playing lengthy, sparse works by Wandelweiser composers like Michael Pisaro, Eva-Maria Houben, and Jürg Frey. But the ultimate test of both the micro and macro aspects of his musicianship is his four-hour, 53-minute-long recording Dennis Johnson: November (Irritable Hedgehog, 2013). Johnson was an early associate of minimalists La Monte Young and Terry Jennings. The scale of November is a precursor of Young’s expansive The Well-Tuned Piano, and the tonal quality and additive construction of its gorgeous, repetitive motifs prefigure the work of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. But since Johnson withdrew from public performance in the early 60s without publishing a recording or score, November has been minimalism’s mirage, its influence sensed but its form never touched. That is, until Young slipped a fragmentary home recording of Johnson playing it to composer, musician, and music critic Kyle Gann, who reconstructed it and mounted a performance with fellow pianist Sarah Cahill in 2009. Lee, in the audience, was so taken with the piece that he not only made the first commercially available recording of it but incorporated it into his repertoire. Tonight he performs it in its entirety—and for only the fourth time publicly. Don’t assume that he’ll bring it back to Chicago again. Note the early start time.