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MP3 Tallis Barker - Suite, Watercolors

Virtuoso and expressive in a single breath: contemporary classical music for piano, performed by the composer himself.

13 MP3 Songs in this album (37:27) !
Related styles: CLASSICAL: Contemporary, CLASSICAL: Traditional

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I. Notes
II. Biography

I. From the notes to this cd:

SUITE (2004) draws loosely on the traditional genres of toccata, fantasia, minuet/scherzo and ground-bass slow movement, respectively - all of which commonly appear in similarly titled works of the eighteenth century. The individual movements here are, however, tightly bound together by means of a single common motif: the open fifth played on the notes c-g alternating with the third d-f. In the first movement, the motif gradually explores its way out from its original form in the key of c, until it has passed through all twelve tones of the octave. The second movement introduces a simply harmonised plain-song melody, which, during its repetition, forms the structural basis of a fantasia. In the third movement the original motif reappears in the foreground - though here in a more chromatic version - and the relentless rhythmic drive of the first movement is transformed into something more whimsical. Indeed, one may at times hear an element of Straussian satire in the sliding chromatic harmonies. The last two movements serve to bring the work as a whole to its apotheosis and conclusion, in the fourth by overtly combining the central motif with elements of plain-song, in the fifth through the ultimate return of the motif in its original form.

WATERCOLORS (2005) strives to represent water in its various aspects of ''colors.'' Whether flowing or still, water does not express itself in hard angles or sharp textures. Musically this is reflected in each piece by a tonal palette composed almost exclusively from the white keys alone. Rather than angular modulations from key to key, gradual shifts of emphasis among the white notes determine changing tonal centres modally. Likewise, from piece to piece, different notes constitute the main gravitational focus - thus generating the primary mode for each piece. The only exception to this basic diatonic plan occurs in the penultimate piece, where, instead of white notes, the piano''s black notes are exploited. Not only do we hear the ''flats'' and ''sharps'' for the first time. Given that there are only five black notes instead of seven, our ears also encounter a new harmonic system: one based on the pentatonic scale. In the eighth and final piece the white notes return. This ''closing of the circle'' is also represented within the piece itself, as the lapping motif saturates each bar from beginning to end.

II. Biography

Tallis Barker was educated at Harvard (A.B.) and Oxford (https://www.tradebit.coml.), and has been the recipient of numerous international scholarships and awards, including a Fulbright and an Erasmus. He studied with Seymour Bernstein, who continues to be his mentor, and to whom Watercolors are dedicated. As a pianist, he has performed on both sides of the Atlantic, presenting recitals of his original works and transcriptions for piano solo, as well as programs of standard repertory. He has lectured at Oxford, and has published numerous scholarly articles in addition to his compositions.


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