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An inexplicable, irreplaceable, and immortal bond exists between music and nature. Not only does nature conduct its own symphony of sounds, but it serves as a wellspring of inspiration for artists of all kinds. Academy® Award-nominated German composer, pianist, producer, and artist Hauschka—Volker Bertelmann—transmits the power of this bond on his 2019 full-length debut for Sony Classical, A Different Forest. Once again embracing the passion, poise, and power of pure piano, he delivers thirteen compositions that immediately illustrate his virtuosity, vulnerability, and vitality. “In my life and behavior, there is a very deep connection to nature,” he exclaims. “I wanted to combine that with my experience using the forest as a resource. It’s where I learned to orientate, relax, and had great conversations with my father as a child. A lot of times, the jungle of the city can feel like a forest and you experience the same phenomena. You don’t know where you’re going and you’re looking for orientation. I took all of the noise away and explored my link to nature and ultimately to the purity of the instrument.” A fascinating journey set the stage for such reflection. Under the name Hauschka, he released a series of albums highlighted by the likes of The prepared piano [2005], Ferndorf [2008], Abandoned City [2014], and, most recently, What If [2017], which earned acclaim from NPR, Mixmag, Uncut, PopMatters, and Q, to name a few. Simultaneously, he established himself as one of the film and television industry’s foremost composers. Teaming with Dustin O’Halloran, his 2016 score for Lion garnered nominations for “Best Original Score” at the 2017 Academy® Awards, Golden Globes®, BAFTA®, and more. Among a prolific slate, he also scored the HBO mini-series Gun Powder, Adrift, The Current War, and Showtime’s EMMY® Award-nominated limited series Showtime limited series Patrick Melrose. In 2018, he re-approached his instrument from a new perspective. After incorporating strings, electronic elements, and various preparations for years, Volker took a step back and stripped the sound to its very core. “I decided to find a different approach to the piano,” he affirms. “It was the right time to take those preparations away and see how I could work without all of the little gadgets. I simplified the setting. All of the pieces were written by improvisation first. In a way, it was an homage to my older piano playing as a kid. It’s a completely different record than I would normally release. It’s truly A Different Forest in that respect,” he smiles.

Current album

A Different Forest

Artists Hauschka

Release Date: 02/08/2019

Sony Classical is pleased to announce the release of the first single Curious and accompanying video on October 12 – by renowned pianist and Oscar-nominated film composer Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann). The single Curious offers the first glimpse of his upcoming album A Different Forest in which he does away with his customary instrumental preparations to return to the pure piano. The first single heralds the central themes of the album: The experience of nature as the basis for Hauschka’s understanding of life and the composition of music. For him, the concept of nature is epitomised by the image of a forest.  

“In A Different Forest, I’m focusing on the forest as a natural environment and contrast to the urban everyday life; to my surroundings. Where do I want to live and work? What surroundings do I need in order to feel fulfilled? By examining these questions I always come back to nature. How often have I gone for a walk and finished on the crest of a hill or mountain top, and found a new perspective on things. It’s quite a moving experience. The experience of the sublime. Realising that everything has been there for such a long time and will continue to exist, yet in contrast, our human existence is reduced to but a fraction of the earth’s history.”  The forest is also a symbol of change for Hauschka. Here people can find themselves again and feel surrounded by, as well as a part of, a unified whole.  

Wandering in the forest is also comparable for Hauschka to his way of composing. He doesn’t initially write down his music, but rather develops melodies, motives or rhythmic ideas that he tests at the piano and then records. So a piece comes into being through the process of playing. A technique he also applied in his early works, that can attributed back to his experiences walking in nature.  

 “My way of composing is similar to walking freely through the forest. When wandering you simply set off into the unknown. You find yourself in surroundings where nothing can be certain and you must trust your own senses in order to find orientation. You select the starting point and certain pointers along the way, but you cannot foresee what will take place enroute. I experienced this very early on and it was essential in order to discover my senses and to realise that when I trust my intuition, a lot can be achieved. So musical ideas are for me in this sense like waypoints while playing and the playing itself is like the wandering that joins them together. In a way I organise sounds into a musical journey.”  

Hauschka often lets his compositions sit for weeks after he has recorded them, only later coming back to listen to them, further develop or rework them. The track Curious displays the process of development very clearly, as Hauschka explains: “With Curious, there is a pause after the first 20 seconds. This originated from the live recording, because as I played through the opening motive, I realised that I had to start the piece anew. But I ended up retaining this “false-start” in the final mix, because I wanted to show the development process. “ 

For Hauschka every musical work is therefore a momentary recording of his activities in the here and now. Similar to a hike it’s often first in looking back, that the way reveals its ‘meaning’. So too with Hauschka’s compositions – it’s often on looking back at the process of their creation that their sense crystallises. Furthermore A Different Forest is also a plea for us to protect and preserve our natural world.