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MP3 Steven Kings - intensely pleasant music: 7 Airs & Fantasias and other piano music by John Pitts

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A collection of beautiful new piano music - including the mesmerising Changes for twenty nifty fingers, the virtuosic Toccata, and seven intensely pleasant Airs & Fantasias.

16 MP3 Songs in this album (77:40) !
Related styles: AVANT GARDE: Modern Composition, CLASSICAL: Contemporary

Piano music from award-winning British composer John Pitts.

CHANGES is a minimalistic counting duel for 20 nifty fingers. It starts with the skeleton of a short repeated phrase (in 14/8) which gradually fills out, and then moves through two enormously tricky sections in which the two pianists have overlapping bars of different lengths (14 and 15 quavers). The duet finally builds to a dramatic climax.

TOCCATA is a tour de force of driving energy, based on some wild jazz-infused harmony and a few simple cells of melodic material which are explored and developed over a 9-minute period: technically demanding, mentally strenuous, the music's energy is regulated until the final release in the last section, where all the thematic fragments converge, and uninterrupted momentum is achieved. Two passages call for the use of the middle "sostenuto" pedal, which sustains only selected notes and leaves all others dry.

The seven "intensely pleasant" AIRS & FANTASIAS for solo piano were written between 1992 and 2007. The airs are essentially melody-dominated, and the fantasias are pieces in free form with a minimalistic use of repeated and rotating patterns. The pieces are intended to be performed individually or in numbered pairs, or as a complete collection. The subtitles are largely programmatic or self-explanatory, other than Air 3 (On an anagram) which uses a melodic motif based on the letters of a name. The performance of Fantasia 2 on this disc uses optional piano preparations (a small plastic ruler secured loosely in place over middle C to the E above, another ruler wedged between 2 of the 3 F strings, and a bent metal ruler from the next C up over a further octave). A&Fs 6-7 inhabit a different harmonic world to the other pieces, using a collection of chord relationships called "Twisted Harmonies".

The surtitle - intensely pleasant music - comes from an International Record Review review of Dunelm Records CD DRD0238 Severnside Inaugural Recital, Peter Jacobs (piano): âThree Pieces - an Aire and two Fantasies by John Pitts are intensely pleasant music with a serene rhythmic sense and a sure harmonic ear.â Calum MacDonald, October 2005.

Also recorded on 21/08/08 was a piece for 30 nifty fingers: ARE YOU GOING? by John Pitts. It is a fast, frenetic, complex, polyphonic romp based on the folk-melody Scarborough Fair, pulled around in various time-warps. Daniella Acker joined Steven Kings and John Pitts at the Steinway, and an mp3 of ipm08a is available initially as a digital download - see

STEVEN KINGS received his musical training at the King's School in Worcester, St John's College Cambridge and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying the piano with Phyllis Palmer and Terence Beckles. He has performed around the country as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician, beginning in the 1980s when he was a founder-member of the New Chamber Players in London. In recent years he has formed a piano duo partnership with Christopher Northam. Over the past few years his solo repertoire has included sonatas by Beethoven, Berg, and Scriabin, as well as music by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Gershwin, Janacek, Ligeti, Liszt, Messiaen, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Scarlatti, Stravinsky and Webern. He has appeared as the piano soloist in Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Lambert's Rio Grande, and in November 2006 was the soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasia with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Bristol's Colston Hall. Steven lives in Bristol where he is in constant demand as an accompanist to choirs, vocal soloists, and instrumentalists. He is currently the accompanist and assistant chorus master to the Bristol Choral Society and the BBC National Chorus of Wales. Since 2005 he has been Conductor of the Thornbury Choral Society, and has conducted the Bristol Choral Society in performances at home and abroad.

Steven is also an active and successful composer. In 1985 he won the Young Composers' Competition at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with Snapshots for flute, saxophone, 'cello, bass and percussion. His red land spring was a prize winner in the Tong International Piano Duet Competition in 2002 and received performances in London and Tokyo. His output includes a number of piano works and several choral pieces. His haiku mass, for choir and brass, was nominated for a British Composer Award in 2003, and Songs of Mary and Simeon (a setting of the Canticles) was performed during the 2005 Three Choirs Festival in Worcester.

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