33 - Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies
J - Composition
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This work explores two principal research questions: (1) to what extent is the 19th century practise of ‘preluding’ applicable in music composed today, and (2) how might the genre of the ‘artist’s studio’ painting be transposed into music?
I worked closely with the pianist John Snijders whose own recent research has been into 19th century piano practice. My intention was to create something akin to a compendium of my own piano output over the last 30 years, in the manner of artist’s studio paintings such as Matisse’s ‘Red Studio’. John Snijders and I also conducted an extended interview on my piano music in preparation for the composition.
The work falls into four large sections, each characterised by a different mode of pianism and each organised around a different, rigorously applied compositional system. Each section is preceded by a short prelude or interlude; these may be improvised by the pianist but the score also includes composed examples. This juxtaposition of closed compositional systems and open, fluid connections is perhaps the work’s most striking feature, demonstrating the difference between composition and improvisation as modes of music-making, and in effect recreating a 19th century piano recital in a condensed version for the 21st century.
John Snijders premiered the work in a BBC Radio 3 recording, subsequently broadcast on ‘Hear and Now’ (6th January 2016). More recently he has recorded it for a portrait CD of my piano music to be released on HatHut Records in early 2020.