Strauss-Walzer Michael Finnissy
1 Wo die zitronen blühne 3:342
2 O, schöner Mai 2:32
3 Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald 3:48
4 Piano Diary 16:37 Michael Longton
5 For Cornelius 19:51 Alvin Curran
6 A Nocturne 12:30 Linda C. Smith
7 Rainbow Valley 10:25 Stephen Parkinson
Strauss-Walzer / Michael Finnissy (1967-89)
“The three Strauss-Waltzer (“Where the Lemon Trees Bloom”, “O Beautiful May”, and “Tales from the Vienna Woods”) were originally part of a longer set of 23 Poems/Fantasies written, for the most part, between 1960 and 1968. At that time I was accompanying ballet classes to pay my way through Sixth Form and college, and these pieces reflect (to a certain extent) “balletic” idioms — and (more specifically) my enthusiasm for the virtuosic transcriptions of Strauss by Tausig and Godowsky. However, these are not straightforward “transcriptions”; the original sequences have been chopped up into tiny fragments, and then re-ordered — rather in the manner of the re-ordered angles and perspectives of Cubist and Futuristic painting… harmonic and melodic patterns recognizable from Strauss’s originals appear out of sequence and with no fear of the consequent tonal instability. The intention is to evoke the spirit and sensual elevation of a Strauss waltz, and clearly not to try and reproduce (or fake) one. The waltzes have subsequently been re-copied, and re-dedicated to Jonathan Powell, Nic Hodges, and Ben Morison, who gave them their respective first performances.”
– Michael Finnissy
Michael Finnissy was born in Tulse Hill, London in 1946. He was a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music, London, where he studied composition with Bernard Stevens and Humphrey Searle, and piano with Edwin Benbow and Ian Lake. Afterwards, he studied in Italy with Roman Vlad. He has taught or has been guest lecturer or musician-in-residence at many colleges and universities, and currently teaches composition at the University of Sussex where he is a Research Fellow, and the Royal Academy of Music, London. He created the music department of the London School of Contemporary Dance, and has been associated as composer with many British dance companies.
He is a prolific composer and his curiosity about a wide range of music—especially folk—combines with a fascination by mathematical structures. This interplay between ideas symbolizing the innocent, unconditional response to music-making and rigorous, intellectual processes frequently creates an emotional quality in his work that has been described as “a happy melancholia”.
He has been featured composer at the Bath, Huddersfield, and Almeida festivals; his work is performed and broadcast worldwide. As a pianist he is particularly associated with the commissioning and performing of new British work; and numerous composers have written pieces for him. A cycle of CDs on the Metier label is underway—discs of ‘Folklore’ and works for string quartet have been released to great critical acclaim, and further discs are planned. A second disc on the NMC label, chamber music played by Ixion conducted by the composer, was released in October 1998.
Piano Diary / Michael Longton(1995)
Piano Diary began as an exercise in self discipline: in an effort to overcome my native shiftlessness I undertook to commit one fragment—no matter how brief—to paper each day. As this collection grew, I decided to impose on it a simple but rigid structure. Each idea would be required to recur, first two days later, then three days after that, then four, then five, etc. In this way, ideas accumulate, collide, and interact with each other, yet at the same time everything eventually fades, is forgotten. The result is, that while there is a great deal of repetition in the piece, it is more about forgetting than remembering. But it’s also the work of an ex-pianist, full of nostalgia for the great days of the piano and always on the lookout for something that can be rescued.”
Canadian composer Michael Longton lives in British Columbia, where he is Director of the School of Music at the University of Victoria. For many years he wrote mainly electroacoustic music, but since the mid-1980s he has concentrated on music for chamber ensembles and for solo piano. His works show two seemingly contradictory tendencies: on the one hand the use of automatic processes, often involving Markov chains and finite state automata, along with a very non-linear and freely associative approach to large-scale structure.
For Cornelius / Alvin Curran(1981-94)
“For Cornelius was written in December 1981 just after my hearing the news of the accidental and tragic death of the English composer Cornelius Cardew. Cornelius was a visionary and his humane, prophetic powers affected everyone around him. Since my first meeting with him in Rome in 1965 and later through the many collaborations of MEV (Musica Elettronica Viva) and Cardew’s AMM group, his subtle influence has remained with me. For Cornelius is structured simply in three sections—a song, a thundering study on slowly changing harmonies, and a chorale. Though not intentionally made so, this piece may be seen as a tribute to Cardew’s own utopian dreams of making “elitist” music popular.”
– Alvin Curran
Alvin Curran, a persistent innovator in today’s new music world, brings the whole environment into unpredictable focus through his sonic fireworks, sharp wit and timeless lyricism. A co-founder of the legendary group MEV (Musica Elettronica Viva) his solo performances, radio concerts simultaneously linking several nations, and large-scale sound installations have been part of new music events around the world for over twenty-five years. A close collaborator with the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Curran is the Darius Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College and has recently released recordings on BMG, CRI, Tzadik, New Albion and Mode. Recent projects include concerts and installations for Donaueschingen, The Finale to Erat Verbum (a six-year project) for the Studio Akustische Kunst WDR (Köln), and for the Klangturm in St. Poelten; orchestral music for Achim Freyer’s In Hora Mortis, a violin concerto for David Abel and the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and a double trio (Fromm Foundation Grant) for the SF Contemporary Music Players (1999 season); and dance theater works for Yoshiko Chuma’s School of Hard Knocks (New York) and Cloud Chamber (Amsterdam). Among recent projects is the ongoing piano music – Inner Cities – and a computer-generated sonic mutual fund: United Sound Bankx, a concert for and with anyone anywhere.
A Nocturne / Linda Catlin Smith
A Nocturne was commissioned by Eve Egoyan through the Canada Council for the Arts. As I was writing this piece, the material seemed more and more to be disappearing; day disappears into night… The work is dedicated to Eve.” – Linda C. Smith
Linda Catlin Smith grew up in New York, and lives in Toronto. She studied composition with, among others, Allen Shawn in New York, and Rudolf Komorous in Canada. From 1988 to 1993 she was Artistic Director of ARRAYMUSIC, a contemporary music ensemble in Toronto, and she is a member of the performance collective, URGE. She has composed works for many Canadian groups and soloists, often for ensembles of unusual instrumentation, and she has received performances across Canada and abroad by ensembles and soloists including: the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Modern Quartet, Vancouver New Music, Penderecki Quartet, ARRAYMUSIC, Les Coucous Bénévoles, Colin Tilney, Eve Egoyan, the Sabat/Clarke Duo and many others. Her work is recorded by ARRAYMUSIC, Les Coucous Bénévoles, Louise Bessette and Barbara Pritchard. Currently her time is devoted to writing music.
Rainbow Valley / Stephen Parkinson (1995)
Rainbow Valley is dedicated to Eve as a gesture of my admiration and respect for her skillful performances and enthusiastic support of experimental music. The piece’s unorthodox sound world and performance techniques place the performer on very thin ice indeed, but Eve’s careful attention to detail and impeccable musicianship combine to give ‘Rainbow Valley’ its expression.” – Stephen Parkinson
Stephen Parkinson studied at Wilfrid Laurier University with Owen Underhill and at the University of Victoria with Michael Longton and Rudolf Komorous. He is a founding member of the Drystone Orchestra and is currently living in Toronto where he is active as a composer and performer. His piece ‘Desires Are Already Memories’ was released on ARRAYMUSIC’s “New World” CD.