Sixteen minutes of mercilessly pummelling the piano keys, alternating shimmering, dissonant chords between right and left hands, as fast as humanly possible or maybe slightly faster. This fleet, beguiling whoosh of texture left the Kings Place audience in no doubt as to Bruce Brubaker's technical prowess, nor his astonishingly delicate, sensitive touch at the keyboard. If we'd been after proof of his commitment to championing interesting new music, at whatever personal cost – well, he had that covered too.

Alvin Curran's Hope Street Tunnel Blues III, the whirlwind with which Brubaker concluded his Sunday afternoon recital, is a piece which takes no prisoners. An A flat major chord in the right hand brushes against an A flat minor in the left, around five times a second. Other notes come and go around it, swaying the pulse this way and that, and the texture varies constantly with touches of the pedal and shifting dynamics. Brubaker appears physically exhausted after about a bar, and at the one point he is awarded a second or two's respite – about five minutes in – his hands momentarily collapse heavily into his lap. Twice as much is still to go.

Obviously, the piece is repetitive. But it doesn't sound repetitive. It sounds like a single, terrifying thing, which gets bigger and bigger until the sound suddenly, majestically, shifts, after some ten minutes – to a slightly different pair of chords, which alternate just as fast, just as relentlessly. At that point I start to wonder if the whole of it is perhaps some horrific joke of a twelve-bar blues, and we've just reached the long-awaited chord IV. The analogy doesn't quite hold, but when the pummelling eventually subsides what takes its place is a minute or so of light, lounge-style jazz noodling which gradually slips back towards the fast, repeating chords. It halts. Everybody feels sorry for Bruce Brubaker's hands. We hit ours together hard, which feels like an ironic gesture.

Such music can take the mind anywhere. I was transported to Hope Street Tunnel itself, which Brubaker had mentioned was in a rough area somewhere in the States, and into the mind of a drunk hobo, trying to find his way out but up against a relentless barrage of high-speed traffic, flying past faster than he can see. He wanders, confused and scared, for fourteen minutes or so, then passes out, hallucinating a visit to a fancy wine bar. He begins to regain consciousness, still in the tunnel. That is the end.

Hope Street Tunnel Blues III was the concluding piece in a recital that had otherwise included music by US composers Philip Glass, Nico Muhly and Missy Mazzoli, and an improvisation by Brubaker himself. The effect of Curran's piece, however, forced most of the recital's earlier music out of my mind – along with where I was, my address, and the login details to most of my online accounts. It certainly brought out the irony in the title of Glass' Mad Rush, the rather gentle minimalist classic which opened the set. But sane and sedate though its comforting, rocking thirds were, Brubaker's wonderfully nuanced interpretation brought this number – and indeed the Etudes IV and V – fully to life.

The other three pieces were sketchier, all experimenting in some way with pitting electronics against the live piano, but not always in an interesting way. Nico Muhly's Drones and Piano, for instance, came across as an essentially random selection of sounds, and the piano part was just as wildly capricious as the wilfully bonkers electronic track. The whole thing sounded like Stockhausen, but without the intriguing mystic edge. In Brubaker's own improvisation, the similarly strange electronics at least seemed to influence the piano part to some extent, though here a little more assertiveness from the pianist against his rather dense sonic backing might have helped to clarify things. Missy Mazzoli's Orizzonte was the most attractive of these three, with its solitary sine waves providing the backing for a graceful, meditative pianistic moment.

It was all a footnote, though, to the onslaught that followed. My ears are still ringing, slightly. I can only imagine how Brubaker's hands feel.

Bruce Brubaker, at Kings PlacePaul Kilbey reviews Bruce Brubaker in Kings Place, in an Out Hear concert featuring music by Alvin Curran and Philip Glass.4