Michael Nyman's 8 Lust Songs comes with a Parental Advisory warning for explicit content, but the songs are in Italian, so only a small number of Italian speakers in the English-speaking world will have the opportunity to be offended (unless, of course, you read the translations in the booklet). Nyman describes the settings of these explicit sixteenth century poems by Pietro Aretino – essentially bedroom dialogues between lovers – as a natural progression in his work, which, since his days as a student, has frequently been concerned with sex.
This isn’t the best recording of The Piano Concerto. Despite the fact that, for me at least, John Lenehan has always been the definitive Nyman pianist other than the composer himself, Stott’s interpretation has more vigour and Lawson’s more musicality. Lenehan’s performance is also muddied by the recording’s vague acoustic, a particularly telling problem for die-hard Nymaniacs who have grown up with the crisp, punchy, quasi-rock production style entirely appropriate to Nyman’s music and a trademark since his work with David Cunningham in the early 1980s.
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.
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.
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.