! !
Waltzing Alone… So I’ve decided I’m playing a few little solo piano pieces of my own at this concert I’m presenting. After all, if I don’t play them, who else will??!! Haha. Anyway, as I was looking through my recent solo piano compositions I had a couple of realisations; 1. Four of the shorter ones fit together into a rather nice longer work. Did I just write a sonata without realising it?? 2. They all have elements of repetitive loop type materials. I guess this was kind of intentional because it’s a compositional method I’m experimenting with at the moment. So I’m going to put them all together and perform them. Here’s one of the movements “Waltzing Alone" in its Sally’s-front-room-remix. Enjoy! PS each of these pieces are dedicated respectively to four of my lovely students Claudia, Ezra, Jesse and Neil. They do inspire me ever so much!
***drumroll*** My 3rd solo album All Imperfect Things - Solo Piano Music of Michael Nyman comes out today on ABC Classics.
It means so much to me to have the opportunity to record solo albums.  I would like to thank the wonderful team at ABC Classics, especially Virginia Read (superb engineer and the only classical music engineer to have ever been ARIA nominated!!), Laura Bell (manager for ABC Classics who give so many splendid Australian musicians wonderful opportunities to share our work) and Natalie Shea (she makes sure that everything I write in my album booklet makes sense, and also deals with copyrights and all that kinda stuff in a very calm and professional way).  Also to the team at Universal, Cyrus and Sarah and Andrew and I’ve probably forgotten someone there cos I’m a little overwhelmed… But you’re all fabtastic!
Special thanks to my dad Colin (who came and sat in the control room every day during the recording sessions and offered me the kind of moral support that only a father can), to my mum Hoon Chee and brother James for putting up with me and all the silly insecurities that performers tend to express (imposter-in-the-room syndrome, much? *laughs nervously*).
Finally the biggest thank you of all to my life partner Glennda.  You’re the light of my life sweetie.  This one’s for you <3
“…this sense of their linked life – cadences as unstoppable as time – is what makes them so moving.”

Kate Kellaway writes in the Guardian on the latest performance of Philip Glass’s 20 solo piano Etudes.

I was proud to be a part of the premiere of the last three of these, back in February. Memories!

Sally Whitwell - Impromptu in G-flat major, D899

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Impromptu in G-flat Major D899 by Franz Schubert.  Performed by Sally Whitwell on the album The Good, the Bad and the Awkward.

One of the best ways to get over a setback is to remind yourself of the wonderful things that you’ve achieved.  So I’m sharing my reminder-to-self with you all *grin*.  Here’s the notes from the digital booklet, to remind me why I recorded it in the first place.

"Not so much a struggle between inner and outer worlds, more of a struggle between old and new worlds is Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady.  It was adapted for the screen by Laura Jones and directed by Jane Campion.  Coming from a ‘new world’ country myself, I feel a connection to stories of tension between the ostensibly strict tradition-bound social mores of old Europe and the comparative freedoms of new world countries.  In the Victorian era, the setting for this novel, were independent women of the new world actually more free, or were there simply different pressures put upon them?  The film’s central character Isabel is fiercely independent in her new world

sensibilities, but also has a fascination with the old world, expressed by her naive fascination with Madam Merle’s parlour performance of Schubert Impromptu Op. 90, No. 3.”

Release date confirmed :D

My second solo album The Good, the Bad and the Awkward will be hitting the record store shelves and iTunes on May 18.

Excited much!!

The grittiest of nitty gritty

Nitty gritty nitty gritty nitty gritty… *grumble*

Actually, I lie.  Organising the little details of an album recording are quite fun, oddly compelling even.

I have four days in the studio to record every track.  I have three distinct piano sound worlds that we need to create (in this order); a classical sound, a pop-minimalist sound, and a bona fide pop piano sound.  Add onto that the tracks for Toy Piano, Harpsichord, Melodica and Recorder with vocals and voiceovers and I’ve set myself quite a task!

AND since I wrote down my draft recording session plan, I’ve realised that the microphones will start far away from the strings on the first day and come closer and closer as the days go by.  All shutting up like a telescope in a very Alice-in-Wonderland way.

I like it :D

I got four and a half stars in The Weekend Australian

From The Weekend Australian - Review

17-18 December 2011



Mad Rush: Solo Piano Music of Philip Glass

Sally Whitwell, piano

ABC Classics

Sydney pianist Sally Whitwell presents a recital of piano music by minimalist composer Philip Glass for her debut album with ABC Classics.  

As one may expect, Glass’s piano music is full of repetitive note patterns and rhythmic groupings that can create soothing, almost hypnotic effects.  This type of minimalist writing is  well suited to the piano, exploiting its percussive qualities, wide dynamic range and bell-like tones while allowing a layering of the texture to create shifting sonorities.

Glass has a persuasive advocate in Whitwell.  Her playing is excellent throughout this disc, going beyond mere notational accuracy to breathe life and shape into the music.  Given the highly repetitive nature of the writing, and the similarities between many of the tracks, Whitwell’s rather personal interpretations bring expressive character and musical contrast to the works.

The title track, Mad Rush, was written as entrance music for the Dalai Lama on his 1979 new York visit.  The writing alternates between gentler patterns and more frenetic episodes, yet Whitwell subverts the mechanical aspect of the music and shapes the repeating cells into phrases that seem to breathe with a natural ebb and flow.  Her playing is intense, highly charged and technically assured.  Other works include an arrangements from Glass’s Academy Award-nominated soundtrack to The Hours, the brilliantly played Wichita Vortex Sutra and the five Metamorphosis pieces.

Sally Whitwell - Wichita Vortex Sutra

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Wichita Vortex Sutra by Philip Glass, performed by piano Sally Whitwell (me!) on the album Mad Rush.

Getting back into practising this one in preparation for my Peninsula Summer Music Festival solo concert.  I will never tire of this piece.

Should my next album cover actually have a piano in it?  Unsure.
Unlike the lass in the picture, I actually play the piano.  Why oh why do they so often get models to pose with musical instruments??  And what are those blue fingernails?? For f*&^*$&^%*k’s sake!!
Excited cos I just ordered this book. Hopefully there’ll be a piece or two in there that will fit nicely on my upcoming album.

Sally Whitwell - Dead Things

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Gratuitous reposting of “Dead Things” by Philip Glass, as it appears on my album “Mad Rush - Solo Piano Music of Philip Glass”

This is a welcome/greeting for the new followers I accumulated over night.  Hullo beautiful people :)

For my lovely new followers… a short behind the scenes video on my album!

Trying not to be obsessive about things… but I have noticed that the best-selling/most-popular track on my Philip Glass album is “Dead Things” from the film The Hours. It’s so different to all the other pieces on the album too.  Hm.
[note to self: record more music from movie soundtracks!]
“Philip Glass’s music up close is like impressionist pixelations. Step back a little and you see magnificent, undulating, organic shapes.”


Read the rest of the article here