For this, his seventh soundtrack for director Peter Greenaway, Nyman deftly orchestrates a mix of strings, horns, and voices to produce another of his fetching and romantic minimalist backdrops. The opening "Memorial" is the highlight of the lot and drives along with stuttering saxophones, an insistent string arrangement, elegiac brass solos, and the soaring vocals of soprano Sarah Leonard (Leonard would be featured on a large part of the Prospero's Books soundtrack). The piece was originally inspired by a 1985 Belgian soccer match tragedy, in which 39 Italian fans were killed. Nyman utilized a death march in his earlier Greenaway collaboration, Drowning by Numbers, and revives the scheme to great effect here for what would become the main theme of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. Nyman contrasts the piece's climatic quality with two relatively sedate yet brooding numbers.
A coming together of two artists with enormous followings – Valentina Lisitsa, with her dazzling artistry and hundreds of thousands of followers on YouTube, and Michael Nyman, with his hugely popular film soundtracks. This release, in the year of Nyman’s 70th birthday, features tracks from his multi-award-winning score for the 1993 smash hit film The Piano.
Michael Nyman (born 1944) is one of the most famous and successful film music composers of our time. His music, although inextricably connected with the visual action of a film, has the quality to stand on its own, to evoke and express the visual emotions in sounds only. Nyman’s most famous film score is of the film “The Piano” , becoming an instant hit. Its openness and its deceptively simple musical lines appealed to a mass audience. The music featured on this recording is either originally written for piano or arranged by the composer himself. Minimal Music champion Jeroen van Veen has been fascinated by Nyman’s music his whole life, and the recording of it was a logical step. He is the ideal interpreter of this seductive, mind opening music.
The 'Eight Songs' are essentially a song cycle presented in two groups of 4: the first group preceded by 4 instrumental movements and the second by 6. The texts were written by World War 1 poets all of whom, apart from the English painter-poet David Bomberg, lost their lives during the war. The songs take their starting point from the title of a series of poems by the French poet Gaston de Ruyter (who was shot down in his planes as late as 7 October 1918): ‘Chansons vieilles sur d’autres airs’ (‘Old songs to other tunes’). The ‘chansons vieilles’ are the poems by English, French, German and Hungarian poets (all sung in their original languages apart from ‘Csak Egy Eiszkara…..’ and the ‘autres airs’ are by English, French, German, Austro-Hungarian, Polish and Italian composers of the 17th and 19th centuries.
Michael Nyman is the third album release by Michael Nyman and the second with the Michael Nyman Band, having previously contributed tracks to new music compilations. Most of the music on Michael Nyman was material from the early films by Peter Greenaway such as "Bird Anthem" (Act Of God) and "Bird List Song" (The Falls). The album also includes his first concert work for the band, "In Re Don Giovanni" which was released as a single on Les Disques du Crepuscule (home of Cabaret Voltaire, Durutti Column and Josef K amongst others) under the title Mozart. The most groundbreaking track on Michael Nyman, however, is "Waltz in F", a piece Nyman wrote for art students whilst teaching at Trent Polytechnic in 1977, Nyman subsequently commandeering two modern jazz improvisers, Evan Parker and Peter Brotzman, to "destroy" this piece. Ultimately, Parker and Brotzman ended up playing over and around ten separate tracks whilst Nyman and Cunningham mixed in their Waltz.
Michael Nyman's three String Quartets were not conceived as a series, as they owe their origins to three very different sets of circumstances. However when the composer heard them together on the 1991 Argo recording featuring the Balanescu Quartet reissued here, he realized that the works had an unintentional but unmistakable consistency of compositional approach. Each work is built around the principle of conflict - not necessarily conflict between the instruments, as is the traditional view of the quartet medium, but conflict between sets of musical materials that appear to be at odds with each other. In the first, the conflict is between two 'found' musical objects, separated both by their cultural origins and by a distance of around 300 years. The conflict in the second is between Indian and European musical styles, while the third's comes from the process of adapting an earlier choral work into a string quartet, interspersing the original with Romanian folk music fragments.