Album Remarks & Appraisals:
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.
Acclaimed for his music's innovation, punchy simplicity and universal appeal, Nyman, during his career as a music critic, coined the term 'minimalism' for an emergent musical genre - one to which he would make extensive contributions in many of his early scores and inspire a vast global audience.
Valentina Lisitsa enters into the spirit of The Piano by re-creating the iconic image of the piano on the beach for the album's cover.
The disc is packed full with 77mins of material, full of irresistible energy. The album includes all ten solo piano transcriptions from The Piano, together on one album for the first time.
The companion digital release, containing an extra half-hour of music, represents complete recordings of Nyman's published music for solo piano, including both the 1993 and 1998 versions of the Heart Asks Pleasure First and Big My Secret.
Tributee: Michael Nyman .
Liner Note Author: Paul Morley.
Recording information: Wyastone, Monmouth, England (12/01/2013-12/02/2013).
Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa has taken an unusual path toward career development: she posted her Chopin performances to YouTube, gained a strong following there, and then hired the London Symphony Orchestra for a set of Rachmaninov concerto performances. The gambit seems to be working: Lisitsa's performances of late Romantic repertoire have been reasonably well received, and now she's earned the right to implement what one imagines was the point of the whole exercise in the first place: the pursuit of the crossover audience centered above all in Britain. There is no denying that Chasing Pianos works well. British composer Michael Nyman has made a long specialty out of minimalist music that shades in the direction of melodic pop. Although Nyman has stated that opera is his favored genre, the style is ideally suited to film scores, and his music for The Piano (1993) is a classic of the genre. That score, adapted for solo piano, is heavily featured here, along with music from other scores that is artfully chosen to give just enough contrast to avoid sheer repetitiveness without disturbing the basic calm surface. Lisitsa's style, flawlessly precise and slightly mechanical, fits this music in a rather eerie way, and fans of Nyman's music will doubtless find a fresh and exciting take on it here. Those coming to the music from the film The Piano or from one of the other soundtracks represented should also be pleased. The sound, from the concert hall at Britain's Wyastone Estate, is unusually well suited to the project: dreamy and soft without being overly gauzy. ~ James Manheim
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