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Michael NYMAN (b. 1944)
Complete Piano Music
Jeroen van Veen (piano)
rec. Studio 1, Culemborg, The Netherlands, 18-19 January 2015
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95112 [57:07 + 53:42]

Michael Nyman is most famous for two things: he was the man that coined the phrase ‘Minimalism’, and he wrote the music for the soundtrack for Jane Campion’s film The Piano. This is a real shame, as there is a lot more to this composer than this, not least some wonderful chamber music, six symphonies and the opera Facing Goya.

Michael Nyman’s piano music has been the subject of a number of very fine discs over the last few years, including The Piano Sings on the composer's own label (NMRCD103 and NMRCD131) on which he performs the pieces himself. There is also a single disc by Ksenia (Xenia) Bashmet, the daughter of Yuri, on Quartz (QTZ 2069), so it is nice to have this collection of his music in a slim-line 2 CD set. However, there is a problem and that is that this set in no way represents the complete piano music. The other collections include music not found on this set, with Bashmet offering one piece, whilst The Piano Sings has ten tracks not featured here. These include Through the Window and Sadie’s Song both of which are the only pieces of piano music that do not seem to be associated with a film.

Jeroen van Veen arranges the music logically, if not chronologically, giving the listener all the pieces from the particular film before moving on to the next. CD 1 gives us music from just two films: twelve tracks from the ever-popular The Piano and five from Wonderland. Both are played well with van Veen adopting tempos, for the most part, similar to those of the composer.

CD 2 offers music from ten films. Whilst both van Veen and Bashmet state that Digital Tragedy is taken from the film Enemy Zero on The Piano Sings Vol. 2 it is said to have come from The Man with a Movie Camera. There is some beautiful music here, a lot of which you kind of know without knowing that it is by Nyman. Then there are the pieces for the Peter Greenaway films which are often heard on the TV or radio.

Jeroen van Veen provides the listener with a good collection of Michael Nyman’s piano music and plays all the pieces well. I found this easy to listen to on repeated occasions. He is recorded in a sympathetic acoustic that brings the best out of the piano and the pianist. The booklet essay, whilst short, is fairly informative and quite detailed.

Stuart Sillitoe

CD 1 [57:07]
The Piano (1993)
1 The Heart Asks Pleasure First, I [4:16]
2 Lost And Found [3:15]
3 All Imperfect Things [3:43]
4 The Promise [3:07]
5 Big My Secret [4:02]
6 The Mood That Passes Through You [3:19]
7 Deep Sleep Playing [2:09]
8 The Embrace [2:22]
9 Silver-fingered Fling [4:24]
10 Here To There [1:37]
11 The Attraction Of The Pedalling Ankle [6:04]
12 The Heart Asks Pleasure First, II [3:06]
Wonderland (1999)
13 Jack [2:31]
14 Franklyn [2:28]
15 Nadia [3:23]
16 Debbie [4:17]
17 Bill [2:56]

CD 2 [53:42]
Man With a Movie Camera
1 Odessa Beach [3:51]
End of the Affair (1999)
2 Diary Of Love [3:27]
Enemy Zero (1996)
3 Digital Tragedy [2:52]
(individual piece)
4 Fly Drive [0:58]
Gattacca (1997)
5 The Morrow [4:26]
6 The Departure [3:48]
The Claim
7 The Exchange [3:29]
Diary of Anne Frank (1995)
8 Why? [3:10]
9 The Schoolroom [2:03]
(individual piece)
10 If [4:27]
Diary of Anne Frank (1995)
11 Goodbye Moortie [2:55]
(individual piece)
12 Chatterbox Waltz [2:27]
Diary of Anne Frank (1995)
13 Candlefire [3:29]
The Draughtsman's Contract
14 Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds [4:10]
Drowning by Numbers (1984)
15 Sheep 'n' Tides [2:30]
A Zed and Two Noughts (1985)
16 Time Lapse [5:30]



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