— The ‘serious and shriveled’ – a society against which Erik Satie railed sardonically in his time – might never be able to grasp a concept of genius at play (NB: not‘at work’ ) in Helps’ aesthetic: the highest place he gave to "casualness". An ideal musical exchange, regardless of the gravity of its content, would resemble a casual (as opposed to forced, studious, exalted, official, diplomatic, etc.) encounter. Helps’ favorite pianists from the early twentieth century (Friedman, Hoffman, Novaes, Cortot) always informed their performances with this divine casualness – their concerto engagements seemed to be nonchalant conversations. Even when this attitude veered toward glibness, Helps infinitely preferred the ‘irresponsible’ result to some lofty music conceived as a struggle between gods.
Let us not mince words, the delightful parergon (or can we consider it as a paralipomenon of the
Piano Quartet which directly follows?) Chatting is one of the queeniest pieces ever conceived. Its first performance was offered by two very cozy fellows (and wonderful ‘cellists) in bathrobes in front of a late-night audience. The music really chats — gossipy, bitchy interventions, misunderstandings, off-hand remarks, tasteless inside jokes, one-up-manship, and so on. Here, the "and so on", along with other impertinences, becomes the kernel of the argument. An argument, in fact, literally occurs in Chatting — followed by a lovely little gesture of "lets make up" at the end. The ‘cello writing is made for drama queens with a solid technique.
Duration: 4 minutes.
Live video performance - Chatting
Scott Kluksdahl and Emil Miland collaborated on the premiere of Chatting (Jan. 23, 1998, Recital hall, University of South Florida, Tampa.)