Sound Impression: Hopkinson 4 by Tobias Svensson

While many of us were settling on rather mundane new ways to occupy our time at home at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, Tobias Svensson decided to pursue a long-held interest in piano restoration. As both a pianist and sound engineer, that certainly seems a fitting choice for the Swedish composer who is now based in London where his very old J&J Hopkinson piano originated. Naturally he desired to create new sounds from the restored instrument and the fruits of his labors can now be heard on an intimate new EP with four songs recorded in half a day each in single takes.

I’ve always been interested in piano restoration, and the lockdown offered me a perfect opportunity to bring something forgotten back to life. With all of its audible imperfections and in all honesty, slightly dull tone, I felt that I needed to produce something out of all that work. The chase for the perfect sound is a never-ending story, but with this release I really learned to love the flaws I felt when playing it.

Felted solo piano music is not exactly in short supply these days, but I tend to see it as something there can’t be too much of in the world any more than one might say there are too many flower gardens and Svensson cultivates this little patch with skilled hands and tender care while letting the unique character of the instrument come through with a refreshing clarity. This EP added a little brightness to my day each time I listened to it and so it may to yours.

Hopkinson 4 was released on September 24 by Sounds Fragil. In addition to the music on his Bandcamp site, you may also wish to check out Svensson’s solo debut Intersections which was released last year on Bigo & Twigetti.