Introducing new piano solos

Anne Ku catalogues new piano solo works by living composers on Concertblog

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As a sightreader, I am always looking for new challenges, that is, to play new music I have not seen before.  Before I entered the world of composers, I would search for published music of dead composers.

In my musical journey, I discover that the new music (of living composers) is just as interesting if not more. These days, if I come across music of a composer I like, whether it’s ensemble music or piano guitar duo, I’d ask if he or she had written anything for piano solo or piano duet. Similarly — vice versa.

Below is a catalogue of the piano solo works I have reviewed and introduced on Concertblog. I will continue to add to this list, arranged alphabetically by the composer’s last name.


Warming up with new piano solos before a concert in Amsterdam

Here was a case of great instrument, great acoustics, but not the right circumstances to do a professional recording. While waiting for his chair, the guitarist recorded me playing some of my favourite “new” piano solos. I say “new” because I had only heard them two summers ago, in Italy, and became so smitten that I had to request for their sheet music from the young composers Chris Williams and Tom Peterson.

On a warm sunny afternoon, we arrived two hours early, hoping to do some serious recording on the beautiful Borsendorfer grand piano in the spacious, bright hall that we had performed once before. It was one of the first places the Amsterdam-based foundation “Stichting Muziek in Huis” had booked us concerts. I remember it well.

We were told that the hall would not be used before our concert. But that did not mean that it would be quiet enough for our duo to record, let alone rehearse without distraction. And all our plans had to be abandoned during those two hours.

Here was a case of great instrument, great acoustics, but not the right circumstances to do a professional recording. The kitchen staff were finishing their lunch, a few residents were wandering in and out, shuffling their feet and talking to one another, and the volunteers were busily getting the hall ready for our 14:30 hour-long concert.

Nevertheless, the grand piano and the acoustics were too good to miss out. While waiting for his chair, the guitarist recorded me playing some of my favourite “new” piano solos. I say “new” because I had only heard them two summers ago, in Italy, and became so smitten that I had to request for their sheet music from the young composers Chris Williams and Tom Peterson.

Arizona-based Tom Peterson’s Sonatina (2nd movement) begins like a fugue.

After receiving the scores in 2007, I got caught up in my final year of conservatory, too busy in 2008 to study the pieces. Finally now in 2009, as usual with the long time lags and back logs of requests and implementation, I get to appreciate them properly.

Sydney-based Chris Williams first wrote “Somewhere between Reason and Light” in Vienna and later adapted it for premiere in Cortona, Italy. I had recorded the first half of it on a Baldwin grand piano in Madrid only to notice that I needed more space and freedom in my interpretation. I then asked Chris to edit the score to allow easier page turns.

No sooner than I had uploaded the video onto youtube and alerted Chris, I received a reply.

Thanks so much for the recording and link. I am just so pleased that you enjoy playing the piece and do it so beautifully! It’s wonderful to hear something new with each recording of it, and I think you are really coming to terms with it nicely. It seemed to me to “breathe” even better in this recording than the last one.

I am about to head off to Tasmania for a week with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (who will be playing my first orchestral piece!) So I am very excited about that.

Gerhard Adam grand piano in London
Gerhard Adam grand piano in London

How ironic that I had once chosen an unknown German grand piano (Gerhard Adam) over the world-famous Borsendorfer when I decided to invest in my first grand in London. [I had regret it ever since.] This one in Amsterdam has such a warmth of sound but never brash or too loud for my liking.