My album, All Imperfect Things, got a nice review in Gramophone Magazine.
Over the years, Michael Nyman’s popular soundtrack to Jane Campion’s film The Piano has become a victim of its own success. At one point during the 1990s everybody seemed to be playing it, from aspiring young pianists to serious professionals. And with mixed results: very few performers managed to strike a balance between the music’s heart-on-sleeve romanticism and the minimalist techniques that underpinned it.
Until now, that is. Sally Whitwell comes fairly close to perfection in ‘All Imperfect Things’. On the surface we are presented with no-nonsense Nyman – 17 taut tracks played with crystal-clear articulation, rhythmic precision and dynamic thrust. In fact, a deeper understanding informs Whitwell’s performances, which is communicated as much through the less familiar pieces than the so-called show-stoppers. For example, Whitwell races through ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’ in order to show how effective ‘Silver-Fingered Fling’ can sound in the hands of an intelligent pianist. And in ‘Goodbye Mortie’ from The Diary of Anne Frank she uncovers something of a hidden gem from Nyman’s back catalogue.
It’s not just during the expressive moments that Whitwell shines. She pulls off a near-convincing performance of the tricky ‘Chasing Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds’, and in the opening of ‘Time Lapse’ makes each chord sound as if it were being dredged from the very depths of the instrument. The gloves are most definitely off here. The only let-down for Nyman fans will be the absence of a number of important pieces. One can understand why time constraints prevented Whitwell from including the Satie-inspired suite from Wonderland; but ‘Big My Secret’ from The Piano is a glaring omission, especially since its companion piece ‘The Embrace’ is included. Therein lies the disc’s only imperfection.
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“…the opening of ‘Time Lapse’ makes each chord sound as if it were being dredged from the very depths of the instrument. The gloves are most definitely off here.”

from a review of my Michael Nyman album All Imperfect Things in Gramophone Magazine.

Feeling pretty chuffed about this!

I was feeling a little grumpy this morning, until this gift arrived.  A video by my friend Andrew, with a soundtrack of my recording of Michael Nyman’s Lost and Found.

Loving living in this neon wonderland…

The Mood That Passes Through You by Michael Nyman. Performed by Sally Whitwell (me!). Video by my friend Andrew from New United Artists :) In his words…

On one of my walkabouts I shoot a footage ‘without thinking’. I found a music for it tonight. The video footage is unaltered and, by a fluke, seems to match the sound.”

***drumroll***

My album All Imperfect Things - solo piano music of Michael Nyman has been nominated in three categories in the 27th ARIA Awards 2013. 


That’s right, three categories.

I am unbelievably thrilled. Not only has the album been nominated for Best Classical Album but my esteemed colleague and partner-in-crime Virginia Read has received nominations for Best Engineer and Best Producer.  She’s an expert in recording classical music and she’s hangin’ out with the cool kids, the engineers and producers who work with the rock’n’rollers and poptarts.  This is a rare occurrence for the classical music industry, although it shouldn’t be.  

It also warrants a mention that she’s also the only woman who’s been nominated in either of those categories.  Excellent!  It’s a still rather male-dominated profession, so this makes me even happier.

Fingers crossed for another pointy ARIA statue on my shelf. And two statues on Virginia’s shelf.
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Sally Whitwell - The Diary Of Anne Frank: Why?

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Why by Michael Nyman. Originally composed for the soundtrack to Anne no Nikki (Diary of Anne Frank).  Performed here by Sally Whitwell (me! Gratuitous self promotion) on the album All Imperfect Things.

Before this was a piano piece, it was a song with text by Roger Pulvers.  When I was recording it, the lyrics of the original song were running through my head. A lot. I still ask myself these questions all the time, even if it is somewhat immaturely naive of me…

We ask our father why, 

Why people cannot love, 

Why people hate all day and night,

Spoiling children’s dreams.

We ask our mother why,

Why people cannot live

Why they won’t let the children be

Crushing their belief.

Tell us why, Papa, your children want to know

"Some day you’ll find out."

Leaves us lonely and cold.

Tell us why, Mama, your children want to know

"You shouldn’t ask such things."

Leaves no room to grow.

We ask our parents why

Why children cannot grow.

Don’t look away from us,

Don’t lie, please don’t lie,

Your children need to know.

Tell me why, somebody,

We children need an answer

Why adults fight over God,

Why adults fight over colour,

Why adults go to war.

Sally Whitwell - The Piano: The Embrace

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The Embrace by Michael Nyman. Originally composed for the soundtrack for Jane Campion’s film The Piano.  Recorded here by Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album All Imperfect Things


So… this is actually my favourite piece on the album. Am I allowed to have a favourite? Too late.

! !
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Sally Whitwell - The Piano: Here To There

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Here to There by Michael Nyman.  Originally composed for the soundtrack to the Jane Campion film The Piano. Performed here by Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album All Imperfect Things - Solo Piano Music of Michael Nyman

This piece was played by a saxophone quartet in the film.  I’m doing my best impression of one :)

Maya Deren.  If you don’t know this name, well, you should!!  Too much to say in one teeny caption, read the wiki article, it’s quite thorough.

My talented friend Andrew Stys edited together some footage from her 1944 silent film At Land and incorporated my recording of Michael Nyman’s If as a soundtrack.  It’s a perfect match!

Sally Whitwell - The Diary Of Anne Frank: If

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If by Michael Nyman. Originally composed for the soundtrack to Anne no nikki (Diary of Anne Frank) Performed by Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album All Imperfect Things: Solo Piano Music of Michael Nyman).

"The Diary of Anne Frank" and "Anime" are not two things that you would necessarily think to put in the same sentence together.  But this works.  Trust me.

Sally Whitwell - The Piano: Silver-Fingered Fling

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Silver Fingered Fling by Michael Nyman, originally composed for the soundtrack to jane Campion’s film The Piano. Performed here by Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album All Imperfect Things - Solo Piano Music of Michael Nyman

Every time I hear this piece, I can’t help but think of the scene in the film

***spoiler alert*** 

After Ada has her finger chopped off by her jealous husband, her lover Baines fashions a new finger for her made from silver which she attaches to her stump with little leather straps.  The opening motif of the piece has a repeated note, which is the note she plays with her new silver finger. Tap. Tap. Tap on the keys *shiver*

Sally Whitwell - Enemy Zero: Digital Tragedy

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Digital Tragedy by Michael Nyman, originally composed for the soundtrack for computer game Enemy Zero. Performed here by Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album All Imperfect Things

Funny story about this one.  Typos are powerful.  When I was researching the piece, I went looking for already existing recordings.  I found Mr. Nyman’s menacingly spooky original recording, and then I found another splendidly energetic one my Ksenia Bashmet which was at least twice as fast.  Very speedy indeed!!  So I asked him what was going on and it turns out there’s a typo in the published score. 

So, kids, if you’re going to learn to play it, know that it’s much slower than printed. The score says 170 bpm but it should be roughly 50 bpm.  

So glad I did my research on this one!!

Sally Whitwell - The Piano: The Attraction Of The Pedalling Ankle

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The Attraction of the Pedalling Ankle by Michael Nyman.  Originally composed for the soundtrack to Jane Campion’s film The Piano.  Performed here by Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album All Imperfect Things - Solo Piano Music of Michael Nyman

Never has characterisation been so intimately intwined in a film soundtrack.  Not before then and not since then… So I felt compelled to record it.

A fan of mine calls my look here either “Menacing Nanny” or “Steampunk Poppins”.  That rather appeals to me, I must say.
From the photoshoot for my Michael Nyman album All Imperfect Things.
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