Secrets of Antikythera

Secrets of Antikythera

The marvelous wheels turn again
Andrew McPherson
Martin Shultz
Nadia Sirota
Ryan MacEvoy McCullough
Catalog Number: 
new classical

London, United Kingdom

Release Date: 
Jan 29, 2013
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

As the namesake of both his innova debut and the suite that lies at its heart, the Antikythera Mechanism is a fitting metaphor for composer Andrew McPherson’s musical approach. A kind of cogwheel computer designed to calculate astronomical positions, the Antikythera Mechanism was discovered aboard the sunken wreck of an Ancient Greek ship at the turn of the last century, although its astonishing secrets have only unfolded recently. Through his work with his own invention, the magnetic resonator piano, McPherson explores the intersection of technology and art, of science and craft, and in the process discovers an entirely new landscape where tradition and the future walk hand-in-hand.

The record as a whole describes an arc of exploration, beginning first with the forceful solo violin piece “Kinematics,” written for and played by Martin Shultz. That energetic statement of purpose gives way to “d’Amore,” named for the viola d’amore, a baroque instrument with both bowed and sympathetic strings. Here, the magnetic resonator piano functions as a huge collection of sympathetic strings, producing shifting clouds of tone that echo and prefigure the movement of the piece, dreamily played by star violist Nadia Sirota.

“Secrets of Antikythera” begins with the ghostly sounds of the magnetic resonator piano and it sounds at once like the distant past and the distant future. But even within its alien tones you can perceive the keys being pressed by human hands (those belonging to Ryan MacEvoy McCullough). Gradually, the electronics are stripped away until the eighth movement is played entirely without them. The epilogue brings the elements into balance again: the past, present, and future blurring together into one unending cycle of experience – and the sheer wonder of invention – that is ever fresh and constantly renewing itself.

Andrew McPherson is a composer, engineer and instrument designer working in the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London.


"[T]he title suite … offers the most complete account of what the magnetic resonator piano is capable of contributing to a given piece. In the opening part ('I. Prologue: Mystery'), the instrument … sounds like a church organ more than anything else; when McCullough enters in 'II. Conception,' the vivid contrast between the unaltered piano and its rather ghostly counterpart comes strikingly to the fore. … [But] Secrets Of Antikythera is ultimately less about an innovative sound treatment than it is about the three compositions featured on the recording. They are the release's true drawing card." [FULL ARTICLE]

"Intensity and density of notes does not take away from the approachability of ['Kinematics'], with its sense of cadence and Paganini-like virtuosity. … The magnetic resonator piano is a hybrid acoustic-electronic instrument which extends the possibilities of the traditional grand piano … [T]he results are rich, strange and revolutionary indeed. With the opening of ['Secrets of Antikythera'], the mechanical resonator piano emerges as a solo instrument in its own right, and the enigmatic tones and strangeness of its sonorities are well suited to the imaginative worlds generated by a unique object isolated by time, abandonment and loss. … Secrets of Antikythera is a superbly engineered and fascinating disc, and pianists, composers and the public should all be aware of this remarkable new development in the potential of the piano." [FULL ARTICLE]
Dominy Clements