The relationship between the original Dadaist movements -- plural, as the style found distribution among a number of international cities -- and music is an aspect of early modernism that remains underinvestigated. Although Erik Satie's connection to Dada isn't in dispute, outside of concretism Marcel Duchamp's two aleatoric compositions and the work of Edgard Varèse of the New York group (which he destroyed), it might seem that Dada was simply not invested in music in the same way that the Russian and Italian Futurist movements were. Dada had a tendency to borrow artistic statements from various disciplines, setting up ordinary household items as art objects or transforming trash found in the street into paintings. LTM's CD Nelly (Pétro) van Doesberg Piano: Repertoire de Stijl: Bauhaus, Dada, demonstrates how the Dadaist movements "borrowed" works of musicians with whom they shared mutual sympathies.
Nelly van Doesberg was the wife of Theo van Doesberg, founder of De Stijl in Holland, a concrete poet under the pseudonym of "I.K. Bonset" and a major mover in Dutch Dada and certain of the German Dadaist congresses. This recording is not made up of Nelly van Doesberg's playing, which is apparently lost to us, but of her repertoire, rendered here by pianist Peter Beijersbergen van Henegouwen. Information about her concert choices was extracted from the concert programs that van Doesberg played at Dadaist events in the 1920s when she was recognized by the press as the "indisputable voice of the Dada movement in Europe." Beijersbergen van Henegouwen accessed a number of the scores in this recording through van Doesberg's own copies of music that she played, including the silly polka Ti-Ta-To by Italian Nino Formoso that van Doesberg may have adopted only as it had a futurist design on the front cover.
Some of the music is familiar -- Schoenberg's aphoristic Sechs kleine Klavierstücke Op. 19, Poulenc's Trois mouvements Perpetuels, and a solo piano version of the "Ragtime" from Satie's arch-Dadaistic ballet Parade. Other composers we know, but they are represented in unfamiliar works; Malipiero's suite Barlumi (1917), Honegger's Trois Pièces pour piano (1915-1919), or Vittorio Rieti's Tre Marcie per le Bestie (1920), mysterious, experimental, and dissonant pieces rather unlike the neo-Classical Rieti that we mostly know.
Unfamiliar composers take up a third of the program -- who has heard of Jakob van Domselaer's Proeven van Stijlkunst or Daniel Ruyneman's Hallucinatie? That is one of the values of such a compilation; the program makes available for the first time a number of pieces only known from their listings in Dadaist handbills. Does all of the music evoke the essence of Dada? Not necessarily, but it does connect strongly with their scavenging spirit, the willingness to take something out of context, and put it up before us and say, "Now why don't you see this as we see it?" Peter Beijersbergen van Henegouwen performs the pieces in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner, and LTM's recording is clean and direct.