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Martin Arnold: Flax

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Martin Arnold: Flax
In 2020, near the dawn of the COVID-19 lockdown, in a benevolent act, the Another Timbre label commissioned a number of selected composers to write pieces that would be recorded for the label. One such commission was for one of the label's esteemed Canadian composers, Martin Arnold, to write a CD-length piece for renowned pianist Philip Thomas who had recently recorded the much acclaimed five-CD box set of Morton Feldman compositions. Remembering discussions he had had with Thomas and having written a lot of upper register melodies for him over the years, Arnold wrote something in which the pianist's right hand would stay in the piano's upper range for prolonged periods.

However, the terrible news soon came in that Thomas had suffered a brain hemorrhage and would not be playing piano for some time. The East London- based pianist, composer and arranger Kerry Yong was recruited to play the piece, having completed a doctorate at the Royal College of Music and become Director of Music at Grace Church Hackney. He recorded the piece at the University of Huddersfield in October 2022. In Yong's hands the piece proves to feature his right hand in the upper register, with his left lower, complementing the right. From beginning to end, the pace is unhurried and soothing, though commanding and repaying attention throughout (as can be heard on YouTube, below)

On November 23th 2023, at the annual Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, to launch Flax Kerry Yong played Arnold's seventy-nine-minute piece alone at a grand piano to a packed room of festival goers who sat transfixed throughout and enthusiastically applauded Young and Arnold at the end. In the festival program, Arnold wrote, "Deepest thanks to the wonderful Kerry Yong for his marvelous version of this quietly demanding piece! Get well Philip!" Amen to that...

Track Listing

Flax (for Philip Thomas, 2021)

Personnel

Album information

Title: Flax | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Another Timbre


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