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Piano

Works for piano (solo, 4 hands, & piano + 1)

Solo

Amygdala Hijack

(variation for Raymond Shon)

piano.
2020: 3 mins. approx.

Schism

piano.
[= Contre-Temps + Un petit jeu d’esprit + Rift]
2009-2019: 16 mins. approx.

All three works can be performed individually, or as part of the larger work.
(i) Contre-Temps. 2016: 3mins. 45 secs. approx.

(ii) Un petit jeu d’esprit. 2019: 5 mins. 30 secs. approx.

(iii) Rift. 2009 rev. 2018: 6 mins. 45 secs. approx.

Un petit jeu d’esprit

piano.
[2nd movement of Schism or standalone work]
2019: 5 mins. 30 secs. approx.

Imperfect Memory: après la danse

piano.
2018: 6 mins. 15 secs. approx.

Memory is unreliable at the best of times. After the premiere of Dancing to the Tremors of Time – an exceptional performance by Michael Kieran Harvey (in the Nolan Gallery, MONA, Hobart, 17/11/2018) – I found myself wondering what might (or might not) be retained by those hearing such a long and challenging work for the first time.

Imperfect Memory: après la danse takes material from the major work, misremembering it with deliberate imprecision in a shorter work that might (or might not) serve as either a reminder or an introduction to Dancing to the Tremors of Time.

Imperfect Memory: après la danse is dedicated to Michael Kieran Harvey in gratitude for both his prodigious talent and his ongoing commitment to the development and support of Australian piano repertoire.

Dancing to the Tremors of Time

piano.
2017: 24 mins approx.

Dancing to the Tremors of Time was commissioned by and is dedicated to Michael Kieran Harvey, and was premiered by him in the Nolan Gallery at MONA, Hobart, on 17/11/2018.

It takes its title from a work by the late Australian surrealist James Gleeson.

“Life is divided into three parts: what was, what is, and what shall be.

Of these three periods, the present is short, the future is doubtful, and the past alone is certain.”

Seneca, from On the Shortness of Life

“Time,

He’s waiting in the wings,

He speaks of senseless things,

His trick is you and me,…..”

David Bowie.

Dancing to the Tremors of Time by James Gleeson
© Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation (used by permission)

Contre-Temps

piano.
[1st movement of Schism or standalone work]
2016: 3 min.45 secs. approx.

Contre-Temps is dedicated to Peter Dumsday, in recognition of his talent & commitment. It was premiered by him in Melbourne in December 2016.

Fracture

piano.
[= re-fract + Doublethink + Shift]
2009-2015: 27 mins. 40 secs. approx.

The handful of piano solos I’d written since (and including) the major revision of Agité III in 2000 were all – to a greater or lesser extent – related, and in 2010 I’d decided that four of them were sufficiently linked to combine quite well as a set, so the original Fracture came into being.

Over following months I became increasingly dissatisfied with this arbitrary construct, and in 2012 my thoughts turned again to the piano with a conviction to create a genuinely unified work. I chose re-fract as the starting point and released the others to make their own way in the world. Later in 2012 Doublethink was completed, followed in 2015 by Shard : thus was Fracture in its present final form eventually (re)born.

All three works can be performed individually, or as part of the larger work.
(i) re-fract.2009: 8 mins. 10 secs. approx.

(ii) Doublethink. 2012: 12 mins. 50 secs. approx.

(iii) Shard. 2015: 6 mins. 40 secs. approx.

Shard

piano.
[3rd movement of Fracture or standalone work]
2015: 6 mins. 40 secs. approx.

“…trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many broken shards.”
from Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Score Sample (PDF)

Repose (for Absent Friends)

piano.
2014: 6 mins. approx.

Repose (for Absent Friends) is a brief, predominantly gentle piece – looking back to a time when the future held infinite possibilities, and friends and family were immortal.

Repose was premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey in Melbourne on 13/4/2018.

Doublethink

piano.
[2nd movement of Fracture or standalone work]
2012: 12 mins. 50 secs. approx.

“…the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, …to hold simultaneously two opinions…knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, …to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again…”
from 1984 by George Orwell (1903-1950).

“…The maelstrom of my memory is a vampire and it feeds on me;…”
from A Plague of Lighthouse-keepers by Peter Hammill.

Score Sample (PDF)

re-fract

[1st movement of Fracture or standalone work]
piano.
2009: 8mins. 10 secs. approx.

re-fract:

re-: again, backward, intensify.

pref. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin.]

fract: to break, to violate. [Obs]. Shak.

v.t. [L. fractus, p.p. of frangere to break.]

refract: to deflect from a straight path, to alter or distort

tr.v. [Latin refringere, to break up.]

 

“…to express the sensation of experiencing a disintegration of identity, a shattering of the self. This is what I mean when I speak of a poetics of refraction.”

from “The fragmentary Muse and the poetics of refraction in Sappho, Sophocles, Offenbach” by Gregory Nagy.

 

re-fract was premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey at the Creativity Unlimited Festival, Sydney, on 01/09/2016.

Score Sample (PDF)

Rift

piano.
[3rd movement of Schism or standalone work]
2009: 7 mins. approx.

Quicksand

piano.
2005: 7 mins. 15 secs. approx.

“…Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither…”
from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1819-1892).

“…I’m torn between the light and dark
Where others see their targets
Divine symmetry… “

“…I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought,
and I ain’t got the power anymore…”
from Quicksand by David Bowie.

Quicksand was premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey at the Iwaki Auditorium, Melbourne, on 21/8/2009.

Score Sample (PDF)

Agité III

piano.
1992 rev. 2000: 12 mins.

Agité III was originally completed in the early 1990’s, and premiered in that form by Haydn Reeder in 1993. It was comprehensively reworked in September 2000; this new version being premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey during the Federation Music Week Festival in Melbourne in September 2001.

Score Sample (PDF)

Michael Kieran Harvey

Akkord I

piano.
1997: 4 mins.

Akkord I was premiered by Danae Killian at the Richmond Town Hall, Melbourne in 1998 as part of the Melbourne Composers’ League ‘Mosaics’ series of concerts. Its US premiere featured Cory Smythe in New York in 2007.

4 hands

…a sneaking suspicion…

piano – 4 hands.
2002: 6 mins.

…a sneaking suspicion… calls for flair, precision, and a subtle sense of humour.

Piano + 1

InDecision

piano + xylophone.
[2nd movement of Extrication or standalone work]
2021: 2 mins. 15 secs. approx.

Resurgence

piano + guitar.
2020: 7 ½ mins. approx.

Sinuosity

piano + glockenspiel.
[1st movement of Extrication or standalone work]
2017: 5 mins. approx.

“The sinuosity of my thought depends on the exterior conditions in which I find myself, on perceptible experiences which modify me, and finally on the law of association of ideas which does not force me to fix my thought, nor to cause it to turn in a circle, nor to make it follow a straight line…”

from The Metamorphoses of the Circle by Georges Poulet(translation: Carley Dawson & Elliot Coleman in collaboration with the author)

Sinuosity was completed in 2017 and has a duration of approximately 5¼ minutes. It can be performed either as a standalone work or as the first movement of Extrication (2014-2021: for piano, glock/xyl, vibes = Sinuosity + InDecision + Alter(n)ations + …this certainty…).

Alter(n)ations

piano + vibes.
[3rd movement of Extrication or standalone work]
2006 rev. 2014: 6 mins. 15 secs. approx.

Alter(n)ations started out in 2006 as a trio for vibraphone, piano and harpsichord that was programmed for the debut concert of the Montreal-based ensemble ‘Contemporary Keyboard Society’. The concert duly went ahead, but the premiere of Alter(n)ations was deferred on ‘workload grounds’ and later, on the departure of the percussionist from the group, suspended indefinitely.

I thought the material deserved better and some years later opted to recast it for piano and vibraphone. Finally (re)completed in October 2014, Alter(n)ations has a duration of approximately 6½ minutes, and can be performed either as a standalone work or as the third movement of Extrication (2014-2021: for piano, glock/xyl, vibes = Sinuosity + InDecision + Alter(n)ations + …this certainty…)

…on the edges of a plan…

piano + flute.
2014: 6 mins. approx.

“Pinned my hopes on vanishing lands
Thought I could be caught like
Smoke with two hands, alive
I’m a Wanderer on the edges of a plan…”
from The Wanderer, by A Lonely Crowd (Luke Ancell, Scott Ancell, Xen Havales)

…on the edges of a plan… was completed in March 2014, and is approx. 6 mins. long.

Score Sample (PDF)

Split

piano + Bb clarinet.
1998: 5 mins.

split: v.t. to cut lengthwise; to cleave; to tear apart; to separate; to divide; – v.i. to break asunder; to dash to pieces; to betray a secret.

“Split is a high-energy work with great rhythmic intricacy. Flutter tongued notes, trills and strong chords, which are split into jagged and angular flourishes for both instruments, plunge us into a short but intense and dramatic sound world.”

Robert Chamberlain [used by permission]

“Split can be described as an abstract but highly-charged modernist chamber work…derives much of its energy and continuity from short note values combined in irregular but active rhythms and gestures…one always senses a clear and consistent pitch structure…”

Thomas Reiner [used by permission]

Split was premiered by [pianist] Robert Chamberlain and [re-sound clarinettist] Paul Todd in Melbourne on October 17th, 2002.