Present Tense
Music for Piano and Electronics @The Forge in Camden, 8pm, 17 December 2013

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Our concert has finished, but if you want to hear and see a bit of what it was like you can listen to some recordings and watch a couple of videos that we made. 

These tracks are laid out in programme order. To find out more visit the blog and about pages where we will also be adding details of upcoming events.
Benjamin Gaunt - Automatic Jaunt

The principal feature of this piece is the way in which two lines of repeated chords phase in and out with one another.  Interspersed with these bouncing chords are fragments of swung, improvisatory melody.  The piece accelerates drastically towards the end, although it doesn’t seem to quite let you believe it wants to come to a complete stop....

Piers Tattersall - René’s Empire of Light

The Empire of Light by René Magritte possesses an odd tension created by the impossibility of daylight in the sky and the night-time in the forest. Nonetheless, there is a clear 'way in' to Magritte's picture; the subject of the streetlamp. It seems to encapsulate both the light of the sky and, because it is black, the darkness of the forest. For In this piece I created 3 musical subjects, or analogues of what are for me the main features of Magritte's picture. What follows is my attempt to try and reconcile the tension between these three subjects, or more precisely, to dwell on Magritte's impossible combinations, trying to prolong the moment where we think the world has gone beyond itself; that night-time and daylight can actually occupy the same space.

Ruaidhri Mannion - Concealing Isis

I had been trying, for a very long time, to find a synthesis of all of my favourite musics which included everything from Radiohead to Romitelli, Aphex Twin to Alvin Lucier, Sonic Youth to Sibelius - I eventually realised it was a pointless exercise. I wanted to write one 'guilty pleasure' piece as a means of catharsis, which would mimic the sheer ferocity coupled with expansive serenity I found in the Los Angeles metal band, Isis.  From Sinking from Oceanic would probably best explain where it comes from.  So there are no Egyptian goddesses built into this piece for me...  I simply wanted to sneak a metal-inspired piece past my colleagues at the Royal College of Music by using the piano.  Once it was over I felt like I could put those old ideas to bed and get on with finding my voice. RM


Pascal Dusapin - Etude No. 1

Dusapin’s first etude for piano is, like much of his output, filled with a deep sense of introspection. Yet the composer’s sparse and seemingly quite radical economy with his musical material suggests the subject of the work is much more tangible, and more physical than mere introspection. This study, the first of seven could be described as a focused meditation on the sonority of the instrument itself, where the careful repetition of single pitches brings both the performer and composer to a point where they can literally study the varying intensities of the piano’s attack, and the expressivity of each note’s decay. Not so much as wallowing in a dreamy wash of sound this study is one means of scrutinising every inch of the piano’s character in preparation for Dusapin’s much larger work A Quia, his concerto for piano and orchestra.

Contrapunctus Republic - for Piano and Analogue Radio

The points in this piece where these two instruments align, or where one instrument appears to offer a musical analogue to the other’s material become a way of overcoming the distance between the world of the virtuoso pianist, and the ordinary world outside the concert hall. In one sense this piece is a bit like an inverted radio play, where the dialogue and soundtrack have swapped places. But, in the end it is about people and it is about counterpoint, and this is why it is called Contrapunctus Republic.

Michael Finnissey - O, Schöner Mai

Based on the waltz of the same name by Johann Strauss Jr., this piece is now part of a set of three solo works after Strauss (the first being “Where the Lemon Trees Bloom”, the second, O Beautiful May, the last, “Tales from the Vienna Woods”).  They were written between 1960 and 1968, when Finnissy was playing for ballet classes.  Whilst maintaining an interest in the tradition of virtuosic transcription (Godowsky, Tausig), Finnissy is less interested here in making straightforward transcriptions of the original works.  Rather, he has taken the musical ideas, “chopped them up into tiny fragments” and reassembled them in different orders.  In the case of O, Schöner Mai, the result is a meditation on the original musical ideas, almost improvisatorially so, and, as the composer has said, “the intention is to evoke the spirit and sensual elevation of a Strauss waltz, and clearly not to try and reproduce (or fake) one”.  This one was dedicated to Nicolas Hodges, who gave the premiere.

The Forge
3-7 Delancey Street
London NW1 7NL
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