Why by Michael Nyman. Composed for the OST to Anne no Nikki (The Diary of Anne Frank). Text is by Roger Pulvers…
I’ve been thinking a great deal about how my knowledge of films and their characters can inform my approach to learning the music for the Michael Nyman album I’m about to record. Even though I’m playing an instrumental arrangement of this piece, I find it helps me to get inside the music a little more deeply if I keep the text of the song in mind as I play.
Ksenia Bashmet plays Michael Nyman’s “Digital Tragedy”. Mr Nyman’s own performance of this piece on the “Enemy Zero” OST is at least twice as slow, so I suspected something was up. I asked him if it was a typo in the commercially available score. He laughed. Of course it is!! So, folks, if you’re going to learn it, it goes at about 70bpm, not 170bpm *giggle* I’ll be recording the correct tempo, cos I’m a nerd who does her research ;)
That said, I quite like Ms. Bashmet’s speed version. It’s really rather compelling.
“I am a deeply superficial person”. - Andy Warhol.
I’ve been drafting a blog about image and classical music, mostly because I’ve seen so many truly awful posters and publicity photos for classical artists scroll by on my various newsfeeds recently. I think we should all be as deeply superficial as Andy. Stay tuned for the blog.
So, a few weeks ago you suggested to me the Bruce Brubaker recording of the Glass etudes, which I located and in the process became aware of the Duckworth pieces "Time Curve Preludes" and "Imaginary Dances". I managed to locate the very nice (but expensive!) sheet music for the Duckworth pieces and am now starting to work through them. I love them! Just wanted to say a big thank you for opening this door.
There's always going to be somebody who doesn't like what you're doing, but you have to do it anyway and trust that someone else will like it as much as you do, or, even better, you might change someone's mind. Everyone dogged me for doing a recital of works by Cage and people he was influenced by/influenced, but afterwards I had many people telling me it was the most well put together, thought-provoking recital they'd ever been to. If you love it enough, someone else will too.
I know right! It’s interesting… The first time round when so many people were ridiculing me not only for recording Philip Glass’s but also for choosing a wonderfully wacky Stuart and Sons piano, I felt kind of afraid and unsure. But the album won me an award and some nice reviews and a profile as a soloist that I never intended let alone dreamed of having. So, um, bollocks to the haters. ;)
I love my hometown, Canberra. I love it so much, I’m giving them a very special concert of a rather exclusive repertoire.
Earlier this year, I had the great privilege of performing some of Mr. Philip Glass’s as yet unpublished Solo Piano Etudes in a concert for Perth International Arts Festival, including a world premiere. He’s given me special permission to perform them, such a rare and wonderful gift. A gift I’m passing on to the lovely people of the nation’s capital.
I’ve been getting a lot of less-than-lovely opinions on my decision to record an album of solo piano music by Michael Nyman. eg.
“Pfft. He’s a lightweight. Second rate.”
“Isn’t it better with the rest of the band?”
“So you found something to like about him, eh?”
I am reminded of the opinions of which I bore the brunt during my preparation for my Philip Glass album Mad Rush. There was quite a lot of derogatory talk, and a bit of jealousy. It kinda hurt at the time, but the album still did pretty well for me, and won me an ARIA so… meh. I’m taking all this as a kind of good omen.
Dumb question: I listen more to jazz than classical music. In jazz it is quite clear why one version of a song is different than another - improvisation + clearly individual style etc... What makes one version of a classical performance better than others? I can't put my finger on why, say I prefer your versions of Glass' work to others. It's less obvious what is different but my preference is just as clear. Also, do you have any fave versions of Glass' piano works - other than yours.
This is not a dumb question at all! Classical performers’ interpretations of the score do differ markedly. The nuts and bolts of the music are pretty much non-negotiable (pitches, durations) but there are plenty of other things you can play around with, within reason. My favourite performers are the ones who take great care with the details of emphasis in the phrasing, every choice the performer makes is in the service of this.
To put it simply, it’s rather like the difference between saying “I love you”, “I love you” or “I love you”.
If you consider that the arts began as an expression of community around the campfire, the fact that arts organizations now need to identify ways to connect more deeply with their communities is truly astonishing.
Only a few more days to vote in the ABC Classic FM Classic 100: Music in the Movies. And I’ve another suggestion to make… Gabriel Yared’s soundtrack to the film Betty Blue. I love this soundtrack so much, I recorded this track from it C’est le Vent, Betty. And I wrote about why I made this choice in the digital booklet for the album….
“It’s all about the choices we make, isn’t it? Someone who made consistently pretty bad choices would be Betty (Béatrice Dalle) of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1986 film Betty Blue. I’m sure that many of us imagine ourselves reacting to bad news in the extreme. Just think how good it would feel to punch that boss you hate square in the face, abuse that unfaithful ex-boyfriend/girlfriend in front of their current flame, rip out the vocal folds of those hideous screaming kids next door. Of course you would never ever act upon these crazy fantasies, but this is where you differ from Betty. Suffering from an unspecified mental illness, she has no filtering mechanism between appropriate reactions and dangerously inappropriate reactions. However, she also has moments of genuine fond connection with her long suffering boyfriend Zorg; the piano duet they play, C’est le Vent, is such a moment. Pity they had to have this moment in the piano shop in the middle of the night, disturbing the neighbours.”