Nyman: Complete Piano Music (2CD)

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Jeroen van Veen

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.

van Veen’s recordings of Minimalist piano music have received critical acclaim while also reaching a wide and receptive audience. Previous albums of Satie (BRILL94768), Einaudi (BRILL9452), Glass (BRILL9519), Riley (BRILL95217) and much more are now joined by the music of Michael Nyman, who may not have invented the genre as Satie did, but was the first to bring Glass, Reich and their contemporaries to wider attention and coin the term Minimalism to describe the way that they rebelled against European modernism and returned to a stripped-back tonality in ways that meshed with popular music of the time.

Nyman himself has remarked that ‘I'm not a great inventor from scratch. What I do is to use, steal, acquire, reproduce or re-cycle music from other musicians.’ Although his skill at composing within the restrictions of specific commissions is well known, his relationship with the film-maker Peter Greenaway, represented here by music used in The Draughtman’s Contract, Drowning By Numbers and A Zed & Two Noughts, involved a free brief where he largely wrote with a subject in mind before filming took place. When it came to perhaps his best-known music, for The Piano, the director Jane Campion recognised that, in Nyman’s words, ‘I was one of the few composers that could create a whole tangible definable world through sound. But then she said, “I don't want any of that Greenaway crap.”’ So he wrote much more flowing music, exemplified by the film’s best-known number and now a modern classic, ‘The heart asks pleasure first’.

According to Nyman, ‘I write everything at the piano. I like the idea whereby an instrument can be percussive at one moment, lyric at another, carrying the melody at one point, and suddenly becoming the rhythm section. Since my music evolves directly from my piano playing, I think more in terms of attack, dynamics, and articulation rather than how tone colours sound.’ In addition to the incidental music for films by Greenaway and Campion, Jeroen van Veen has recorded some of the most memorable numbers from Nyman’s other work for cinema, including Wonderland, The End of the Affair, Carrington and The Diary of Anne Frank.

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The Piano (version for piano)
1. The heart asks pleasure first
2. Lost and found
3. All imperfect things
4. The Promise
5. Big my secret
6. The Mood that Passes Through
7. Deep Sleep Playing
8. The Embrace
9. Silver-Fingered Fling
10. Here To There
11. The Attraction of the Pedalling Angle
12. The heart asks pleasure first II

Wonderland (version for solo piano)
13. Jack
14. Franklyn
15. Nadia
16. Debbie
17. Bill

18. Man with a Movie Camera (version for solo piano)

Disc 2

1. Man with a Movie Camera: Odessa Beach (version for solo piano)
2. The End of the Affair: Diary of Love (arr. for piano)
3. Enemy Zero: Digital Tragedy
4. Carrington: Fly Drive

5. The Morrow
6. The Departure

7. The Claim: The Exchange (arr. M. Nyman for solo piano)

The Diary of Anne Frank (version for piano)
8. Why
9. The Schoolroom
10. If
11. Goodbye Moortie
12. Chatterbox Waltz
13. Candlefire

14. The Draughtsman's Contract: Chasing Sheep Is Best Left to Shepherds (version for solo piano)
15. Drowning by Numbers: Sheep 'n' Tides (version for piano)
16. A Zed and Two Noughts: Time Lapse

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