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Quiet Rhythms Book I

by Nicolas Horvath & William Susman

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    You also get a .pdf album booklet which includes liner notes in French and English by David Sanson, artist bios and photos.
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      $9 USD  or more


  • Sheet Music + Digital Album

    Autographed, 89 page, spiral bound edition of the sheet music for Quiet Rhythms Book I containing Nos. 1 - 11. Purchase of the sheet music includes the digital album.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Quiet Rhythms Book I via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 15 days

      $45 USD


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in a 4-panel gatefold digipack card case including composer remarks, photo, and a QR code for liner notes with artwork by Clémence Michon.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Quiet Rhythms Book I via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 15 days

      $15 USD or more 


  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 6 William Susman releases available on Bandcamp and save 35%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Music for Moving Pictures, Quiet Rhythms Live at Spectrum NYC, Scatter My Ashes, Quiet Rhythms Book I, Collision Point, and A Quiet Madness. , and , .

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William Susman
Nicolas Horvath, piano

"... La musique miroite, danse dans une joie extatique, frémissante au bord du silence. ..."

(“...The music shimmers, dances in ecstatic joy, quivering on the edge of silence ...”)
– Inactuelles, musiques singulières

"...textually shimmering and harmonically ravishing …”
– Gramophone

“… a powerful emotional experience…”
– New Music Buff

“… haunting settings mesmerize…”
– textura

“… crystalline music …”
– Fanfare

“… hypnotic …”
– Spellbinding Music

Collection 1001 Notes presents Quiet Rhythms Book I, a recording that brings together American composer William Susman and French pianist Nicolas Horvath.

This solo piano album, filled with lush hypnotic harmonies and gently cascading rhythms blossoms across eleven tracks. Performed by one of today's foremost classical interpreters, an ambient mixture of the sublime, deep meditation and serenity carries you to a place of transcendence.

Susman writes, “In the late hours of the night, I composed Quiet Rhythms touching on a reservoir of moods and ideas. I wrote Book I of this four book piano series in 2010. The music was intended for me to perform in public and I gave several performances over the next few years while continuing to compose three more books.”

Quiet Rhythms Book I includes 11 solo pieces for piano. Each piece has two sections: a prologue followed an action. The actions, which were composed first, are lively syncopated pieces. The prologues, offer a preview, a kind of “smoothed-out” version of the action.

Nicolas Horvath’s recording presents the entirety of Book I, collected here for the first time in a single album. Many of the tracks are premiere recordings.

Susman’s music is described by AllMusic as “the next developments in the sphere (of) minimalism,” and has earned praise from The New York Times for being “vivid, turbulent, and rich-textured,” from Gramophone as “texturally shimmering and harmonically ravishing,” and from textura as “distinctly American.”

Nicolas Horvath has become noted for organizing concerts of unusual length, sometimes lasting over twelve hours, such as the performance of the complete piano music of Erik Satie at the Paris Philharmonie Boulez Hall before a cumulative audience of 14,000 people, and the complete piano music of Philip Glass. In October 2015, he gave the closing day concert in the Estonia Gallery at the Expo World Exhibition in Milan with a program of music by Jaan Rääts. In 2019, he was selected by Philip Glass himself to perform during the composer’s Philip Glass & Friends concert at the Paris Philharmonie.

His career has taken him to concert venues around the world. Nicolas is a Steinway Artist and he is also an electroacoustic composer. In 2021, Collection 1001 Notes launched the series Nicolas Horvath Discoveries dedicated to Nicolas’ boundaryless musical explorations.


(The liner notes were originally written in French by David Sanson and appear below in English and French)

The Retreat of Time

About William Susman's Quiet Rhythms

One day soon we will have to do away with this catch-all word -- “postminimalism” -- which has come to be practically meaningless. It is as if we described Beethoven and all the composers influenced by Haydn's advances as “postclassical.”

Few contemporary composers in the Western classical tradition have escaped (even if only to react against) the influence of the revolution that the American musicians who used repetitive structures -- the “minimalists” -- brought during the 1960s. (At that time, the term "avant-garde” still meant something, and was embodied in their art.)

But chronological and categorical considerations are ultimately of little interest in the case of living artists. The retreat of time does not yet allow us to assess their place in history using this yardstick.

While waiting for the invention of the appropriate term to describe the music of William Susman (b. 1960), it is useful to return to the source, to the irreducible singularity of his artistic journey, as it is embodied in the four books forming Quiet Rhythms, a cycle of 88 short pieces collected between 2010 and 2013, representing some 4 hours of music. Nicolas Horvath delivers here the first full recording of Book I.

At around the age of 23, Susman encountered the music of Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, and was influenced by their processes involving the repetition and transformation of tonal harmonic material, as well as their reliance on a regular rhythmic pulse. In the case of Susman’s Quiet Rhythms, the pulse is not absent, but its irregularity, along with its metric instability, is at the heart of the music. Susman’s music is also extremely condensed. His cellular evolutions occur in movements of less than five minutes, in contrast to the expansive unfolding of the early minimalists.

Perhaps more importantly, Susman’s encounter with the minimalists led to a shift in his philosophy of composition. He had loved and played Afro-Cuban music since he was 14, and the example of the minimalists gave him permission to integrate that music into his mature style.

Susman writes, “The way Riley, Reich and Glass incorporated the things they liked -- Indian or African influences for example -- into their music led me to think about the things I knew, I admired, what I could bring to my music that the others didn't. And little by little, it brought me elsewhere in terms of composition, far from the very Eurocentric tradition from which I came, from the influences of Ligeti or Xenakis. I understood that to grow and find my language, I had to develop from my personal experience, from my own life.”

The rhythms of the montuño and the clave came to permeate Susman’s music, along with the hockets of the Notre Dame School and the isorhythmic compositions of Ars Nova, which he had studied with passion, along with the indelible memories of the American Songbook and jazz standards. It is precisely the fusion of these diverse traditions -- this unprecedented synthesis of Western Medieval metrical devices with Afro-Cuban syncopations, American jazz, and Susman’s own distinctive harmonic colors -- that characterizes Quiet Rhythms.

Susman composed the pieces in a kind of creative frenzy, while following a rigorous approach to structure, without necessarily anticipating that the cycle would finally take on such a vast scale. Each book includes 11 Actions, each of which is preceded by a Prologue. The Prologues are fluid pieces, laid out like the ebb and flow of waves in a harmonic ocean, like rhythmic ostinati which prepare the ear for the Action that will follow. These descriptive Prologues, sometimes having the character of a toccata, were composed after the Actions to which they correspond, and use different compositional techniques. The Prologues provide a “smoothed out” version of the harmonic tapestry of the Actions, in which Susman gives full rein to isorhythmic invention.

“The term 'Action' expresses first the movement: we are going somewhere. Its meaning is also philosophical, reflecting a desire to move the pianist and the listener to a different space. Through something different from what I've done in the past, more syncopated. For me, it was also a way of ‘putting into action’ the innumerable ideas that I had mentally accumulated for several years concerning rhythm. These Actions are like bursts of inspiration, snippets of ideas that I needed to extend. I tried to develop these fragments into something that moved my ideas forward ...”

The Actions, above all, are about movement. Strictly speaking, they are not "studies", but each explores an idea or (iso)rhythmic cell with a continually changing metrical structure, borrowed either from montuño –- the rhythmic and harmonic framework that is the foundation of the Cuban sound, or from clave -- a rhythm of African origin, which is found in both Cuban rumba and Brazilian samba, formed by two measures of two beats each, the first of which (tresillo in Spanish) contains three sounds and the second, two.

The total effect is captivating. The combination of rhythmic instability with a carefully developed harmonic ambiguity intensifies the intoxicating, dizzying sensation of the music, and creates a fascinating internal energy, a breath that is both suspended and active. Nicolas Horvath finds "something both eternal and fragile," in these virtuosic pieces. They seem at times to have always been there, like the iridescent reflections of the sun on the ocean. It is as if these syncopated yet unperturbed rhythms, like brush strokes which in turn rise and fall, triggered a palette of harmonious sound colors with endless nuances. Through “snippets of ideas that would simply take much longer to disappear,” these syncopations reach forward and backward, as in a dance, like the waves of the sea, surging in and flowing out. The tide has a life of its own.

David Sanson
Translated by Nicolas Horvath and Stephen Eddins

Le recul du temps
A propos des Quiet Rhythms de William Susman

Un jour prochain, il faudra bien en finir avec ce mot-valise de « postminimalisme » qui finit par ne plus rien signifier – un peu comme si l’on qualifiait de Beethoven, et tous ceux qui comme lui s’inspirèrent des avancées de Haydn, de « postclassique ». Rares sont en effet les compositeurs issus de la tradition écrite de la musique occidentale à avoir échappé, fût-ce pour s’en garder, à la révolution que les musiciens répétitifs américains ont au cours des années 1960, époque où le mot d’ « avant-garde » signifiait encore quelque chose, imprimée à leur art. Mais trêve de considérations chronologiques et taxonomiques, celles-ci sont finalement de peu d’intérêt s’agissant d’artistes vivants, que le recul du temps ne permet pas encore d’évaluer à cette aune. En attendant l’invention du terme approprié pour décrire la musique de William Susman, né en 1960, revenons à la source même, à la singularité irréductible de son parcours artistique, tant celui-ci se révèle éclairant pour appréhender les quatre livres formant Quiet Rhythms, cycle de 88 pièces brèves recueillies entre 2010 et 2013, représentant quelque 4 heures de musique, dont Nicolas Horvath livre ici le premier enregistrement intégral.

A l’évidence, l’œuvre de William Susman a été influencée par sa rencontre, vers l’âge de 23 ans, avec la musique de Terry Riley, Steve Reich et Philip Glass : le processus de répétition et de transformation d’un matériau harmonique tonal y est une marque caractéristique, de même que l’importance de la pulsation rythmique – si l’on peut dire, tant, dans le cas de Susman et de Quiet Rhythms, c’est précisément sinon l’absence, du moins l’irrégularité de celle-ci, l’instabilité métrique qui est au cœur du propos ; propos, en outre, d’une extrême condensation, puisque les évolutions cellulaires se produisent dans des pièces dont la longueur, n’excédant pas les cinq minutes, tranche avec les lentes architectures de ses aînés. Mais l’apport de cette rencontre a été avant tout « philosophique », qui n’a fait qu’infléchir, de manière déterminante, une trajectoire musicale esquissée depuis longtemps, et marquée par une autre influence d’autant plus indélébile qu’elle a été précoce : celle de la musique afro-cubaine, pratiquée dès l’âge de 14 ans en tant que pianiste au sein de diverses formations. « La façon dont Riley, Reich et Glass incorporaient à leur musique les choses qu’ils aimaient – les influences indiennes ou africaines par exemple – m’a amené à réfléchir aux choses que je connaissais, que j’admirais, à ce que je pouvais apporter à ma musique et que les autres n’avaient pas, explique Bill Susman. Et peu à peu, cela m’a amené ailleurs en termes de composition, loin de la tradition très eurocentrée dont j’étais issu, des influences de Ligeti ou Xenakis. J’avais compris que pour grandir et trouver mon langage, il fallait que je me développe à partir de mon expérience personnelle, de ma propre vie. »

Les rythmes du montuño et de la clave irriguent ainsi la musique de William Susman avec la même intensité que ceux du hoquet de l’Ecole de Notre-Dame et des compositions isorythmiques de l’Ars Nova, qu’il a étudiés avec passion, ou que ses inaltérables souvenirs de l’American Songbook et des standards du jazz. Et c’est précisément les possibles fusions entre ces différentes structures métriques, cette rencontre inédite de la tradition médiévale occidentale avec les syncopes afro-cubaines, qu’étudient de manière méthodique mais jamais mécanique, avec douceur et infiniment de couleurs, les pièces de Quiet Rhythms.

William Susman a composées celles-ci dans une sorte de frénésie créatrice, mais suivant une démarche rigoureuse, sans se douter que le cycle allait finalement prendre cette ampleur. Chaque livre comporte 11 Actions auxquelles préludent autant de Prologues – pièces liquides, étales comme le sac et le ressac d’un océan harmonieux, ostinati rythmiques dont le but est de préparer l’oreille de l’auditeur comme la main de l’interprète à l’univers harmonique dans lequel évoluera l’Action qui suit. Ces Prologues à vocation « descriptive » ont été composés, parfois dans l’esprit d’une toccata (le Prologue n° 30), après les Actions auxquelles ils correspondent ; faisant appel à une tout autre technique, ils offrent la version « aplanie », comme une tapisserie harmonique que l’on aurait lissée, de ces pièces dans lesquelles William Susman laisse libre cours à ses spéculations isorythmiques : « Le terme ‘Action’ exprime d’abord le mouvement : on va quelque part. Sa signification est également philosophique, traduisant un désir de déplacer le pianiste et l’auditeur dans un espace différent. A travers quelque chose de différent de ce que j’ai fait par le passé, de plus syncopé. Pour moi, c’était aussi une manière de ‘mettre en action’ les innombrables idées que j’avais mentalement accumulées depuis plusieurs années concernant le rythme. Ces Actions sont comme des éclats d’inspiration, des bribes d’idées qui mettraient simplement beaucoup plus de temps à disparaître : j’ai essayé d’étendre ces fragments à quelque chose qu’il soit possible d’‘actionner’... »

Mobiles, les Actions sont avant tout mouvantes. S’il ne s’agit pas d’« études » à proprement parler, chacune explore une idée ou une cellule (iso)rythmique à la métrique perpétuellement changeante, emprunté soit au montuño – ce balancement tout en contretemps qui est au fondement du son cubain – soit à la clave – ce rythme d’origine africaine, que l’on retrouve aussi bien dans la rumba cubaine que dans la samba brésilienne, formé de deux mesures de deux pulsations chacune dont la première (tresillo en espagnol) contient trois sons et la seconde, deux.

Au plan du résultat musical, l’effet est captivant. Car l’alliage de l’instabilité rythmique et de cet effet de flou harmonique soigneusement étudié ne fait qu’intensifier la sensation de vertige émanant de ces pièces qu’anime une fascinante énergie intérieure, une respiration à la fois suspendue et mobile. Ces pièces virtuoses dans lesquelles Nicolas Horvath dit trouver « quelque chose d’à la fois éternel et fragile », et qui semblent par moments avoir toujours été là, agissent un peu à la manière des reflets irisés du soleil sur un océan : comme si ces rythmes irréguliers et imperturbables, tels des coups de pinceaux qui tour à tour se figent ou se précipitent, actionnaient une palette de couleurs harmoniques et sonores aux nuances infinies. A travers ces « bribes d’idées qui mettraient simplement beaucoup plus de temps à disparaître », c’est ici le temps qui fait une syncope, avançant et reculant en une danse bancale, suivant un rythme qui, pareil au sac et au ressac de la marée, possède sa vie propre.

David Sanson


released March 20, 2022

Music by William Susman
Produced by Nicolas Horvath
Recorded by Nicolas Horvath
Recorded at La Fabrique des Rêves, June 8 – 14, 2020, Misy-sur-Yonne,France
Mastered by Nicolas Horvath
Cover, Booklet Art and Design by Clémence Michon
Liner Notes David Sanson
French Translation Nicolas Horvath and Stephen Eddins
Photography (composer) Rick Chapman
Piano Steinway & Sons, Model D, No. 248200
Piano Technician Brice Savine

All compositions © 2010 by William Susman & Susman Music (ASCAP)


all rights reserved



William Susman San Francisco, California

William Susman is a composer and pianist.

His music has earned praise from Gramophone as “texturally shimmering and harmonically ravishing,” from Fanfare, "crystalline . . . and gloriously lyrical,” and The New York Times, “vivid, turbulent, and rich-textured.” Textura describes Susman as “not averse to letting his affection for Afro-Cuban, jazz, and other forms seep into his creative output.” ... more

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