Archive for January, 2012

This year (2012) will see the release of a C.D. “Set for Piano” by Divine Art Music under their Metier contemporary music label. How this happened is akin to a story plucked from the pages of the Hotspur. It is the stuff of dreams . . .

I am fortunate to have amongst my circle of friends the most talented pianist Anthony Goldstone. He has made many superb recordings, often accompanied by his wife Caroline Clemmow, for Divine Art and has, through the years, presented me with copies of these. I was always conscious of the feeling that I would never reciprocate these gifts, that is, until I realised that I could.

As a member of COMA I have attended many Summer Schools which this organisation promotes and often I have performed my own music at concerts which have been recorded. I hit upon the idea of making a C.D. compilation of these recordings and sent the result to Anthony who immediately sent it on to Divine Art.

And here is where the incredibility content increases. Shortly afterwards I received a “letter from America” inviting me to consider the idea of making a C.D. or two under their label. By the time I had re-read the missive and after deep consideration lasting all of one second I accepted the offer and immediately “Set” to work.

That was the easy part. Finding and persuading an established virtuoso to realise my Non-Prescriptive style of composing was I thought, going to prove difficult. Until I remembered Mary. Mary Dullea, whom I had met at a CoMA Summer School two years previously. We had got on very well indeed and importantly she is making a reputation for championing experimental music. Could I persuade her to put her reputation on the line and record my Set?

March 2011 saw me travelling to London to visit Mary. This was a critical point in the project. I had decided to play through the Set for her. I had even practised – something I never do. I regard time practising as time taken from composing. The weather was wet, grey and cold in sharp contrast to Mary’s warm welcome. After I had briefly explained the principles, underlying my Non-Prescriptive techniques I sat at her piano, drew a deep breath and began to play the Set. And as I played I noticed Mary becoming increasingly involved in the music. She was soon across the room and sitting down at the piano to run her fingers through the music. Yes, I had her attention. Her interest in the Set was confirmed when, after hearing it through to completion, she had no hesitation in saying that she would be most happy to make the recording.

Mary will never realise what that moment meant to me. It was a vindication of years of solitary work, slowly evolving my thoughts and ideas regarding my Non-Prescriptive music, never expecting that one day a leading contemporary pianist would be eager to present it to an international audience through the auspices of Divine Art.

 And so, three months later at the wonderful Old Granary Recording Studio in Norfolk, Mary and I convened with Alex van Ingen, a recording engineer who has previously worked with Mary.

 Andrew, the owner of the Old Granary, proved to be the most obliging, and welcoming host; repeatedly tuning the Steinway throughout the two days of recording. It was not my first recording experience but it was the first where my role was reduced to that of a helpless spectator watching Mary and Alex working meticulously through the pieces, both of them lifting the very best from the music. How intense these sessions were. The focus, the world suspended, forgotten, excluded by the one overriding intention of attaining perfection. An indescribable period of informed silence pervading the studio at the end of each day. Mary slowly regaining contact with reality, Alex continuing doing things technical. No words exchanged. Until that is after the second day of recording when Alex quietly turned to me to ask about the possibility of my writing music for another C.D.

 I replied saying that I might do just that and, since then, have been true to my word. I have been working assiduously at my hermitage, the Music Factory, and have almost completed Piano Sonatas Nos. 7 and 8. As soon as Divine Art release the “Set” I will again make the journey to London to visit Mary . . .

Read Full Post »