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Michael NYMAN (b.1944)
Chamber Music - Volume 1: Piano Trios 1992-2010
Poczatek (2010) [16:21]
The Photography of Chance (2004) [20:29]
Yellow Beach (2002) [6:23]
Time Will Pronounce (1992) [20:18]
Fidelio Trio
rec. September 2010, Church of St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London
MN RECORDS MNRCD120 [63:12]

This is the first issued volume in Michael Nyman’s chamber music series to be released on his own label. It presents the Piano Trios, written between 1992 and 2010, of which two - Poczatek and The Photography of Chance - are making their first appearances on disc.
 
Poczatek (2010) is a five-movement trio derived from music for the film of the same name which Nyman wrote in 2009. This new ‘version’ was written for, and premièred by, the Fidelio Trio in November 2010 by which time they had already recorded it. Nyman’s rhythmic patterns are at their most immediate in this work, the speeds varying and the dancing paragraphs now more driving, or now more stately, as the music develops.
 
Commissioned by Brolly Arts, Salt Lake City, The Photography of Chance (2004) is melodically infiltrated and animated by the sound of the Sora bird, native to the area. This twenty-minute work is noticeably appealing, and its often abrupt conjunctions are frequently startling. The cello’s slightly jazzy lines, which sometimes run independent of the violin and piano, assure the music of sonic interest, so too the hints of American vernacular, such as the Turkey-in-the-straw barn dance moments that boil up. One also senses the influence of Nyman’s score for The Piano in some aspects of the writing.
 
Yellow Beach was written two years beforeThe Photography of Chance. It is, in the composer’s words, a ‘transfigured version’ of Come Unto These Yellow Sands, which the Michael Nyman Band performed in the film Prospero’s Books.Brief, at six minutes, it segues from one incident to another very easily and its transfiguration, for the Ahn Trio, is effective though non-essential Nyman. More significant is Time Will Pronounce, the earliest work here, written in 1992. Owing its genesis to the war in Bosnia - the title derives from a Joseph Brodsky poem - this is the most overtly expressive work of the four. Its intensity is accompanied by greater necessity for tonal weight from the string players, and increased use of vibrato. The driving motoric sections generate considerable excitement and evoke Nymanesque Boogie, as well as anguish, but the work ends in contemplative silence, as if all passion has been spent.
 
Presentation is gatefold with a booklet note written by the composer. Sound quality is fine throughout, as are the excellent performances.
 
Jonathan Woolf