Turner Sims Fellow and contemporary pianist extraordinaire Mark Knoop has just released a new solo recording, featuring music by our composer colleague Matthew Shlomowitz. Mark tells us about how the piece and the recording came about:
In 2009 Matthew and I first discussed the idea of his writing a new work for solo piano. I was planning a series of concerts which would each consist of two large-scale pieces — Matthew’s new piece was to be performed alongside Michael Finnissy’s English Country Tunes. The year before we had both become excited and intrigued by Peter Ablinger’s works including his ongoing cycle, Voices and Piano, in which recordings of the voice of a renowned individual (taken from interviews, speeches or readings) are played alongside, and analysed, transcribed, interpreted by the solo piano part.
Partially in response to Ablinger’s work, Matthew decided to incorporate recorded sounds into the new piece, but in this instance triggered by the playing of a sampler keyboard placed on top of the acoustic piano. Popular Contexts became the first in a continuing series of works for Matthew, with six volumes now completed for varying ensembles, each incorporating samples.
The samples in “Popular Contexts” interact with the acoustic piano in a variety of different ways. To start with, they shadow the acoustic sounds both in pitch and rhythm, but quickly take on a separate identity, informing and recontextualising the situation.
After the first performance in 2010, we decided that it was important to record Popular Contexts and agreed that a selection of Ablinger’s Voices and Piano would make the ideal partnership on a CD. Now with the support of the University of Southampton and the Brussels-based record label Sub Rosa, the CD has at last been released.