Solo piano

Three Toys Nos 2 and 3

Originally titled ‘More Toys’
Recorded by Jill Richards on ‘Michael Blake: Complete Works for Solo Piano 1994-2004’ (MBED001)
Published in: 
Duration: 6'00"

Première

First performance: Wednesday 29 September 2004; Howard College Theatre, Durban, South Africa; Mary Dullea pianoperformance details.

Programme note

Three Toys No 2 and No 3 came about because I wanted to compose different views of the "object" I had called A Toy (Three Toys No 1), and so the complete set might be an aural equivalent of viewing a piece of sculpture from three different perspectives. The changes that occur between pieces are related to pitch and mode; in every sense they could be read as a response to Satie's Trois Gymnopedies.

BWV Fragments

Recorded by Jill Richards on ‘Michael Blake: Complete Works for Solo Piano 1994-2004’ (MBED001); and by Antony Gray on ‘Bach Piano Transcriptions’ (ABC Records PLU 347534)
Published in: 
Duration: 1'00"

Première

First performance: Thursday 16 May 2002; Beethoven Room, Grahamstown, South Africa; Jill Richards pianoperformance details.

Programme note

BWV Fragments was written on the occasion of Ishbel Sholto-Douglas' retirement from the Rhodes University Music Department. Her life-long passion for Bach's Cello Suites, which she first introduced me to when I was an undergraduate at Wits University close to three decades before, led me to use them as the source material for this little tribute. I cut and pasted, transposed and superimposed fragments, and deliberately misread clefs, but every single note came from Bach.

Nightsongs

Recorded by Jill Richards on ‘Michael Blake: Complete Works for Solo Piano 1994-2004’ (MBED001)
Published in: 
Duration: 4'00"

Première

First performance: Thursday 5 August 1999; Beethoven Room, Grahamstown, South Africa; Michael Blake pianoperformance details.

Programme note

Nightsongs takes apart, and then puts together differently, all the Cole Porter songs I know with "night" in the title as well as the very chromatic I Concentrate on You. The music inhabits a strange, almost expressionist world, unlike anything I'd written in more than twenty years, with fragments of Porter sometimes fleetingly remembered. I started it in London in March 1997 to play on a concert tour, but only managed to reach the double barline two years later in Grahamstown.

38a Hill Street Blues

Requested by Marcel Worms for his ‘New Blues for Piano’ project
Recorded by Jill Richards on ‘Michael Blake: Complete Works for Solo Piano 1994-2004’ (MBED001)
Published in: 
Duration: 3'45"

Première

First performance: Saturday 25 March 2000; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Marcel Worms pianoperformance details.

Press

Die program is geopen met “38A Hill Street Blues” met Max (Magda) de Vries (marimba) en Frank Mallows (vibrafoon). Die werk is oorspronklik vir klavier geskryf, maar in 2003 getranskribeer vir marimba en vibrafoon. Die kleur wat dié twee instrumente verleen, en die twee spelers se uitstekende spel, het die werk laat leef.
The programme opened with “38A Hill Street Blues” with Max (Magda) de Vries (marimba) and Frank Mallows (vibraphone). The work was originally written for piano, but transcribed for marimba and vibraphone in 2003. The colour that these two instruments contribute, and the two players outstanding performance, gave the work life.
Piet Kooij, Die Burger, September 2007
Translation: Giel Swart

Two Studies for Prepared Piano: 1. Gang o' notes

Recording: SABC, Johannesburg
Bardic Edition Facsimile Score BD 0548
Duration: 4'00"

Première

First performance: Thursday 7 July 1983; First SABC Contemporary Music Festival, South African Broadcasting Corporation, Johannesburg, South Africa; Shirley Hoffmann prepared pianoperformance details.

Programme note

The first of Two Studies for Prepared Piano, Gang 'o Notes pays homage to a great jazz piano master of the twentieth century. Art Tatum, whose piano improvisation fits into a keyboard tradition that spans the 17th thru 20th centuries, regularly transcended the medium of his instrument, so the prepared piano is perhaps a fitting medium for this study. I have divided the instrument into registers that are 'prepared' and those that are completely 'unprepared'. Gang 'o Notes was requested by Shirley Hoffmann to whom it is dedicated. She gave the first performance on 7 July 1983 at the First SABC Contemporary Music Festival in Johannesburg.

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