Danny Holt, Piano
1 Caleb Burhans: In Time of Desperation (2003) (6:19)
Lona Kozik: Fast Jump: Etudes and Interludes for Piano (2002-03)
2 A Tangled Web We Weave (we keep our demons intact) (2:30)
3 On a Clear Day, You Can See for Miles (2:18)
4 End of the Tether (an interlude) (2:20)
5 Disperse (the quick but calm spread of sunlight – on the water – at dawn) (4:00)
6 Clouds Swirl Over the Water (2:28)
7 First Frost (an interlude) (1:45)
8 Watching My Step (2:48)
9 Fast Jump (2:59)
10 Jascha Narveson: ripple (2005) (4:59)
11 Graham Fitkin: Relent (1998) (10:56)
David Lang: memory pieces (1997)
12 cage (5:57)
13 spartan arcs (3:42)
14 wed (4:42)
15 grind (1:58)
16 diet coke (1:52)
17 cello (5:00)
18 wiggle (4:42)
19 beach (8:32)
All world premiere recordings
Intuition, obsession, and a love of extreme contrasts are three fundamental impulses that shape my creative work as a performer. When I come across music that I like, it speaks to me in what feels like almost a primal way: I feel it, I want it, I need it! All of the works on this disc are like that for me.
Playing the music of Caleb Burhans and Graham Fitkin comes very naturally to me. The music speaks with an immediacy and clarity, an incessant groove that just makes me want to play it non-stop. In Time of Desperation was Burhans’ reaction to the death of Luciano Berio in 2003, and the piece is dedicated to the memory of Berio, and of Burhans’ father who had passed away several years earlier.
Fitkin’s Relent has a similar intensity, though perhaps slightly more exuberant, as its syncopated grooves and stark, transparent textures are completely un-relenting. The composer describes the piece as a rumination on the inevitability of time: “This piece is about time. It is about my perception of time, its various manifestations and ultimate inevitability. I think about the way I use my time, how much I need and just how long it feels like. I think about continuous time, circular time and our society’s preoccupation with marking the passage of time. And then I think about the relentless addition of time and how for me some day it will just stop.”
Lona Kozik’s music also speaks to me very directly, though its incredible virtuosity makes it a bit more challenging to bring to life. It’s well worth it, however. The etudes and interludes that make up Fast Jump span the gamut from serene, impressionistic textures to aggressive fits of rhythmic energy, always with a keen sensitivity to rhythm and groove. The influence of early 20th century composers (Bartók, Ravel, Debussy) and late 20th century composers (Glass, Ligeti) collides with rhythmic structures and sonic sensibilities derived from North Indian classical music, with an occasional hint of Harlem stride thrown in for good measure. I especially love the crazy bursts of energy juxtaposed with moments of quiet. This music perfectly captures so much of my personality: the extremes, the joy, the insanity! I’m often bouncing off the walls, going from here to there, doing a zillion things at once, and this music resonates with me in part because it captures that element of who I am.
If Kozik’s music speaks to my frantic side, then Jascha Narveson’s ripple speaks to the quiet contemplative side that every once in awhile manages to provide a healthy counterbalance to my frenetic tendencies. The hauntingly beautiful sound world of ripple results from the composer’s combination of both algorithmic and intuitive compositional processes: the music in the right hand was sketched out using computer programming, while the music in the left hand was written in a freely intuitive way. Narveson writes that he likes music “that bends its own shape–where familiar things come back in compressed or expanded form” and he notes that the dialogue between the two hands in ripple “feels like the music breathing…The image I had when naming the piece was of tossing pebbles into a pool of water and watching the ripples break up the reflected surface, but this a poetic afterthought and not a central idea.”
Ingeniously crafting incredibly direct expression out of small units of rhythmic and gestural material, David Lang’s memory pieces is a study in obsession–an explosion of rhythm, process, color, and the juxtaposition of gentle subtlety and dazzling, aggressive sonic activity. I like to think of Lang's music as an amazing on/off switch: you flip the switch on and you get some incredible, beautiful musical texture–it may be sparse, or it may be extremely dense–and that texture remains until you flip the switch off, and then it stops, suddenly and uneventfully. The musical material that constitutes these textures may sound like repetition, or like a carefully crafted process, but Lang keeps it interesting (and extremely challenging for the performer) by avoiding explicit repetition, predictable patterns, and easily discernable processes almost entirely. Consequently, the music maintains a very "alive" quality, even while its overall sense of time is one of timelessness, or being totally removed from linear time. Each movement of memory pieces is dedicated to one of the Lang's friends who has passed away. The composer writes, "Each of these little pieces highlights some aspect of my relationship with each friend...The way I choose to look at these pieces is as laboratories for larger works. If I can incorporate the music or the ideas or the techniques of these little pieces into other works then I am in some way keeping something of my friendship alive."
Produced by Mike Garson and Danny Holt
Recorded in 2005 and 2007 at Hitching Post Studios, Bell Canyon, California
Engineered by Bill Jenkins
Additional engineering by Edmund P. Monsef
Edited and mastered by Edmund P. Monsef at The Hacienda, Los Angeles, California
Yamaha CFIII piano
Piano technician: Greg Rorabaugh
Danny Holt uses MusicPad, a digital sheet music
display produced by FreeHand Systems
Cover artwork: Toivo Rebane
David Lang's memory pieces: Red Poppy, administered by G. Schirmer
Caleb Burhans' In Time of Desperation: Burning Hands Publishing
This project was made possible in part through grants from the
Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music and a Subito grant
from the American Composers Forum.
innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.
Philip Blackburn, director, design
Chris Campbell, operations manager