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 Posted:   Nov 13, 2013 - 10:21 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Little Things

I'd heard of the Colburn School of music but didn't know where it was until I had jury duty once and found they were a block away - with a café.

If someone hadn't posted on Facebook there was a concert series there called Pianospheres celebrating their 20th anniversary last night with piano pieces, commissioned to a number of film composers, I wouldn't have known.

If the place wasn't ten minutes from where I live and if it didn't happen on Tuesday, the one night my wife works late, I probably wouldn't have gone.

Her name is Gloria Cheng. She is a petite Grammy winning pianist who "is noted for her devotion to tapping the emotional core of contemporary music". In other words, all music, as I learned from Morricone, has an attitude and emotional charge and if you do not play it with that in mind anything can sound abstract or cold. So when there is dissonance in a piece as there is in the first two pieces obtained for last night's concert, Bruce Broughton's "Five Pieces for Piano" and John William's "Conversations", she plays that with anger or hysteria or anything to make that music tangible and meaningful. It sounds simple but it is not all that easy. That is what makes her so extraordinary and why she has been used in so many film scores from THE MATRIX to THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. And that is why when after she had pieces from these first two composers, she came up with the idea of asking her other favorites to write other piano solo pieces, and they did, with a wide variety of approaches and styles. She played them all last night in a recital entitled "Montage". Don Davis wrote the experimental "Surface Tension" and Michael Giacchino a brisk memory piece called Composition 430. But my favorites were Randy Newman's "Family Album: Homage to Alfred, Emil and Lionel Newman" and Alexandre Desplat's "Trois Études". Ironically Desplat was the only who wasn't there. Yeah, they all showed up and took bows after each segment with Gloria, who got a standing ovation at the end.

So this tiny powerhouse of talent brought together an array of talent that you could otherwise not dream of assembling. But when the crowds clustered around each composer after the show as they slowly moved out of the auditorium I decided to back off, I was just happy to be in the same theater with them (which was the 400 seat Zipper Hall). C'mon I had heard 4 world premieres, why jostle my idols? So I stayed in the auditorium and called my wife to share this fantastic surprising night with her and then slowly walked out to my car. But lo and behold all 5 composers were still in the lobby and without the crowd. I got signatures and talked to all of them John Williams, Bruce Broughton, Randy Newman, Don Davis and Michael Giacchino.

It's the little things.




http://pianospheres.org/?p=1545

 
 Posted:   Nov 13, 2013 - 1:25 PM   
 By:   Shaun Rutherford   (Member)

Wow, that is EXCELLENT!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 13, 2013 - 1:47 PM   
 By:   That Bloke   (Member)

Jealous much? Me? You betcha! wink

But good for you nevertheless. big grin

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 13, 2013 - 2:38 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Holy crap, Morricone, that's fantastic. I'm so totally envious, you don't even know the first of it. That's my number 1 dream right there -- to meet and maybe shoot a pic with Williams.

Of course, I've known about this event for some time due to the Willliams involvement, and we're all waiting for a recording of his "Conversations" -- his first piano concert piece since the piano sonata in 1951. Hopefully, it's coming eventually.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 13, 2013 - 6:23 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Holy crap, Morricone, that's fantastic. I'm so totally envious, you don't even know the first of it. That's my number 1 dream right there -- to meet and maybe shoot a pic with Williams.

Of course, I've known about this event for some time due to the Willliams involvement, and we're all waiting for a recording of his "Conversations" -- his first piano concert piece since the piano sonata in 1951. Hopefully, it's coming eventually.


What I LOVED about the night is that I had short unhurried conversations with all of them. Williams tends to leave the quickest so I focused on him first. Unlike my last conversation with him where I sacrificed my time to extoll the virtues of the GSPO, this time I talked about what was on my mind, starting with THE REIVERS which was my first LP I bought of his (and the only CD I brought because I happened to have it in my car). He talked of his early days and his association with Mark Rydell. And then came the question I have been waiting years to ask, had he ever presented THE FURY in his concert repertoire? He said he was TRYING to recall the score. My eyes opened wide with surprise and with grand gestures I said it was perfect for the concert hall and a very powerful piece. He was surprised right back at me, and pointing to his noggin he said after a moment "You've put the idea in my head!" These things seldom pan out but I swear if this shows up within the next year I am taking full credit for it!



In the meantime does anyone know where I can get Desplat's “Trois Études” ?

I can't get it out of my head!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 1:21 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Excellent stuff! Yeah, now that you mention it, I'm also surprised why Williams hasn't performed THE FURY more often in concerts. It's very suited for that.

 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 2:52 AM   
 By:   Gunnar   (Member)

Awesome, Morricone! I am happy for you and thank you for sharing this. Can you describe Williams' piece in a bit more detail?
It must be such a great experience to have an evening with all of these musical masters in a setting and with an atmosphere that is so much removed from red carpets and media buzz, and right back at the core of it all - to experience music together.

 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 5:37 AM   
 By:   Shaun Rutherford   (Member)

Holy crap, Morricone, that's fantastic. I'm so totally envious, you don't even know the first of it. That's my number 1 dream right there -- to meet and maybe shoot a pic with Williams.

Of course, I've known about this event for some time due to the Willliams involvement, and we're all waiting for a recording of his "Conversations" -- his first piano concert piece since the piano sonata in 1951. Hopefully, it's coming eventually.


What I LOVED about the night is that I had short unhurried conversations with all of them. Williams tends to leave the quickest so I focused on him first. Unlike my last conversation with him where I sacrificed my time to extoll the virtues of the GSPO, this time I talked about what was on my mind, starting with THE REIVERS which was my first LP I bought of his (and the only CD I brought because I happened to have it in my car). He talked of his early days and his association with Mark Rydell. And then came the question I have been waiting years to ask, had he ever presented THE FURY in his concert repertoire? He said he was TRYING to recall the score. My eyes opened wide with surprise and with grand gestures I said it was perfect for the concert hall and a very powerful piece. He was surprised right back at me, and pointing to his noggin he said after a moment "You've put the idea in my head!" These things seldom pan out but I swear if this shows up within the next year I am taking full credit for it!



In the meantime does anyone know where I can get Desplat's “Trois Études” ?

I can't get it out of my head!


Once again, great job, Henry.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 9:06 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Awesome, Morricone! I am happy for you and thank you for sharing this. Can you describe Williams' piece in a bit more detail?
It must be such a great experience to have an evening with all of these musical masters in a setting and with an atmosphere that is so much removed from red carpets and media buzz, and right back at the core of it all - to experience music together.


The piece slightly surprised me because I am used to Williams taking more of a traditional or melodic approach to solo pieces, but this lady is so good at playing this modern writing, attacking and jarring WITH feeling, that I see why he wrote in this style. And, as I said, I learned from Morricone's pieces to look for shifts and certain colors added to give the pieces a specific feel that makes the piece unique. These specifics can give the music some underlying flavor to the anger, hysteria or sadness that such music evokes, which I "got" getting used to Morricone's giallo pieces. And indeed this last movement of the Williams piece takes on a more pensive quality that takes the agitation into a more calming place. Gloria talked about how the last two pieces, Randy Newman's and the Williams, had the most revisions and it was fascinating for her to see how these two composers approached their pieces, what would stay and what would need work. So she was practically a collaborator as these pieces were being honed, as she played them back each time. How cool was that for her, and us!

I probably am showing a prejudice picking the Desplat and Newman pieces as my favorites because they happened to be the most expansive and melodic. But I think I loved the Desplat music because it had a modern feel AND yet the more melodic flow. It staddles both worlds which isn't easy to do. Plus the sounds he gets for piano seems almost unique. It is what I talk about ad nauseum when I explain why I love Goldsmith and Morricone. They sometimes come across like they are trying to find a new sound for each score or at least a sound that is seldom explored. So when Desplat goes there, as he occasionally does, it gets me all excited about him over again. He does here.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 9:37 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

While I love Williams' melodic side -- and also when he's written melodic lines for piano in his film scores -- it's nice to hear that this ventures into more avantgarde territory. It IS his main instrument, after all, so it makes sense that he explores some difficult textures. It's only flabbergasting that he hasn't done it more often in the concert world.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 10:58 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

While I love Williams' melodic side -- and also when he's written melodic lines for piano in his film scores -- it's nice to hear that this ventures into more avantgarde territory. It IS his main instrument, after all, so it makes sense that he explores some difficult textures. It's only flabbergasting that he hasn't done it more often in the concert world.


It is refreshing. As I always said, the thing I most value on a composer's journey is the element of surprise. Surprise for me, and I think for the composer himself.



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 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 12:09 PM   
 By:   Gunnar   (Member)

Thanks a lot, Morricone!
It sounds as if this evening's programme would make for an awesome CD. Who knows if Gloria and the composers can't be nudged into this direction?

 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 12:21 PM   
 By:   dogplant   (Member)

Wow, that's amazing, Henry. Thanks for sharing.

MV, if we all chip in, can you please send a CD of La La Land's recent "Fury" restoration, with a bunch of roses, to the Gorfaine / Schwartz Agency to help jog Mr. Willliams' memory again? :-)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 2:50 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Wow, that's amazing, Henry. Thanks for sharing.

MV, if we all chip in, can you please send a CD of La La Land's recent "Fury" restoration, with a bunch of roses, to the Gorfaine / Schwartz Agency to help jog Mr. Willliams' memory again? :-)


LaLaLand? Wasn't it Varese who released the 2CD set expansion thingie?

I could be mistaken, since I'm totally out of the loop when it comes to those things.

 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 3:35 PM   
 By:   dogplant   (Member)

LaLaLand? Wasn't it Varese who released the 2CD set expansion thingie?

I could be mistaken, since I'm totally out of the loop when it comes to those things.


big grin

http://www.lalalandrecords.com/FuryThe.html

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 15, 2013 - 1:32 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Oops. So they basically reissued the Varese album.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 15, 2013 - 9:52 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I gotta mention my other favorite piece of the night, Randy Newman's "Family Album: Homage to Alfred, Emil and Lionel". Randy is one of the most self-effacing composers I've ever met, outside of Hugo Friedhofer. Maybe this comes from not having a lot of formal training but I've found learning by writing and arranging songs in your early years is one great way to earn your chops. The likes of Burt Bacharach, Stu Phillips, not to mention Ennio Morricone and John Williams, shows how far you can get from these REAL working skills. Anyway this piece is the most conventional of the bunch but it was illuminating and alive! A walk with these composers (emphasis on my favorite Golden Age composer Alfred) starting at Tin Pan Alley, as "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" is floating around, and ending with the 20th Century Fanfare! Randy goes against my preference of composers whose instincts are to stretch in all directions and try not to repeat themselves. But if I would totally reject those composers with narrower ranges I might miss all the times their talents marry to the right project and they hit the highs the rest of them do. I can't let myself do that here. But I'll let Randy explain himself in his offbeat liner notes for the 5 movements:


1) The Follies: Young and beautiful
Alfred came to Hollywood to work with the great Busby Berkeley on the Great Ziegfeld's film WHOOPEE. Three of the Newman bothers married Goldwyn Girls and Lionel married an Earl Carroll Girl. Everybody seemed pretty happy to me. The Depression makes a brief guest appearance to remind the audience what was outside when they left the theater.

2) Lionel Teaches Marilyn Monroe How To Sing
He did teach her to sing. He didn't talk about her much, but he said she was very nice and he liked her. He said that she ate more than anyone he'd seen.

3) Carmen Miranda: "How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You I'm Not Mexican!"
Carmen Miranda starred in musical comedies in the 1940s. She was Brazilian (though she was born in Portugal) and she played Cubans, Argentineans, Cubano-Irish, Peruvians, Columbians and almost every other Latin American nationality. She appeared in several films as herself. Mmmm. Dare I dream of something so grand?

4) Emil Teaches Sonja Henie How To Skate
For awhile Sonja Henie was the biggest movie star in the world. She was surprised too.

5) Outdoors But Not The Red River Valley
I remember Al saying in every film, John Ford wanted to hear "The Red River Valley," which is a great tune, but you don't want to hear it in every picture. It bothered Al. What I wrote for this brief "Moment Musicaux" is not an attempt to write something that Alfred might have written. I can't do that and neither can anyone else. My piece is a bit more whitebread and vanilla milkshake than anything he would have submitted to Gloria Cheng. Do you know why I didn't leap into the 20th century with a knife and fork and wrie something like John Addams or Lutoslawski or Bartok or Schoenberg, all of whom I love? As Richard Nixon said, we could get the money but it would be wrong. I could write the music, but it would be wrong. When I was competing in cage fighting, I specialized in Taekwondo. I wouldn't get in with a wrestler or a boxer so why would I get in there with Boulez or Ligeti? I could write a 12 tone piece for countertenor, two piccolos, a kazoo and an anvil, and maybe, just maybe...I already have! See my score for " I Wake Up Screaming," How About You?

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 15, 2013 - 6:18 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

John Williams on "Conversations":


I've always wanted to write something for Gloria Cheng. I originally intended to write a series of "water pieces" for her, but I got distracted.

Instead while at Tanglewood...and for no reason that I can explain... I began to think what a conversation might be like between the great jazz pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and Elizabeth Freeman, none as Mumbett, a resident of western Massachusetts and a former slave who sued the state of Massachustts in 1781 for her freedom... and won! Two strong personalities, one pianistic and the other most surely vocal and hymnal...meet for a chat. I imagined them having their conversation near Sedgwick Pie in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Visit it if you can.

Next came Claude and Monk. Not the Claude you might think I mean, but Claude Thornhill... a seminal figure in jazz history, principally remembered for his mentoring of Gil Evans. Thornhill, who loved Debussy, and who I knew during my childhood, understood the sea change in piano sonorities discovered by Debussy, and those equally radical ones invented by Thelonious Monk. It's delicious to imagine an exchange between these two giants.

Chet Baker and Miles Davis possessed markedly opposing personalities, however they did have much in common. They both eschewed bravura and needless display, and always revealed their art with the barest minimum of fuss. They could be brief and often quiet, but their message was invariably brought forth with great force and power.

Finally "Strays" (Billy Strayhorn), Duke (that one of course...) and Blind Tom, another former slave and somewhat forgotten 19th century figure in American pianistic history...here gather to unravel the secrets surrounding the birth of "stride".

And dear listener/reader, if you're still with us...don't listen too intently to identify the voices named within. Theirs will remain inimitable and incomparable. However that we might be permitted to overhear these luminaries chatting in some undiscovered time zone...unrestrained by such things as clefs and barlines...is a notion that is indeed enticing, and I hope that these minor musings might, in some small way, be worthy of the memory of these notable antecedents of ours.

 
 Posted:   Nov 16, 2013 - 3:15 AM   
 By:   Gunnar   (Member)

Morricone, thank you once more! Is this taken from the concert programme, or where did you find it?
It is interesting to see how Williams returns to his Jazz roots. Makes me all the more curious about this piece.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 16, 2013 - 8:48 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Morricone, thank you once more! Is this taken from the concert programme, or where did you find it?
It is interesting to see how Williams returns to his Jazz roots. Makes me all the more curious about this piece.


YES. Sorry to keep dwelling on this but the more I think about it the more this felt like one of the most extraordinary musical nights I've ever had in my life, and I've had quite a few of those. And yet it was so simple and unexpected. Here are Michael Giacchino's notes from the program"


"Composition 430"

Composition 430 is the reflection from a memory I have from a particular moment in time while growing up in New Jersey. I remember the feeling of freedom I had while riding my bike around the neighborhood and the sense of self that it brought me. While riding to a friend's house I felt as if my small life was suddenly far bigger and more important than my true reality allowed. As I wrote I was reminded that the intimate conversations I had with friends in those years can never be re-lived - but the music allowed me a sort of "time travel" cheat which, I'm afraid, is as close as I will ever come to experiencing these moments again.

 
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