“I wasn’t really naked. I simply didn’t have any clothes on,” Josephine Baker once said. Known for his work with the Niels Klein, Jens Düppe or Nils Wülker Ensembles, pianist Lars Duppler turns this bon mot on its head: he performs fully clothed and “naked” at the same time. The twelve solo piano pieces on his new, fifth album reveal an impressive depth and enormous concentration which both thrills and calms alike. “naked is the logical answer to (my previous album) raetur”, says Lars Duppler. “After the rocking quartet it´s just my piano and me.” Duppler actually used three Steinway D grand pianos for the recording in DLF´s venerable chamber music hall. With ample breathing space and a deliberate, perfected yet subtle aesthetic, a richly varied cosmos of sound unfolds, which is as close to the late Romantic period as it is to the jazz of Paul Bley or John Taylor and the music of Frederic Mompou or Witold Lutoslawski. naked also sounds absolutely modern and yet so much more alive than mere electronic plink plonk from the electronic music scene, which only makes it more immediate.
“Naked” and vulnerable as leitmotifs recur again and again in this production. Lars Duppler prepared for the recording by chance, alone at his Steinway every day, before the birth of his first daughter. He was also on his own during a stint at the Landesmusikakademie in Neuwied – no other ensembles, alone in a restaurant. His daily routine: practicing, writing, taking walks. He was alone again in the big recording hall, with no notes or feedback from colleagues, without other players´ solos or bass and drums keeping the rhythm.
“It was a throwback to the beginning”, says Duppler. “It was very honest and completely new. It was almost like only hearing your own voice on the answering machine all day or seeing yourself naked on a huge poster in the city center and passing by it a whole bunch of times a day.”
Six wonderfully original compositions, two very singular interpretations of Rodgers & Hammerstein´s standard “My Favorite Things“ and Irving Berlin´s “How Deep Is the Ocean”, as well as various, no less elaborate interludes (recorded with a seventies-era tape echo, operated manually and without the use of MIDIfication) unite on naked into a Gesamtkunstwerk with various currents and arcs of tension. One can concentrate on this music or listen casually, evenings or mornings and of course in every imaginable state of revelation – it fascinates and surprises anew.