Peter Garland - The Birthday Party | New World Records NW80788

Peter Garland - The Birthday Party


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Label: New World Records

Cat No: NW80788

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 14th July 2017



On first hearing, the piano music of Peter Garland (b. 1952) creates a feeling of dislocation, then astonishment: It is so very different from the contemporary concert music we are familiar with. The composer’s intent, his emotional directness is immediate—despite the unusual sound world and different sense of time that these pieces exhibit.

The three pieces on this CD, The Birthday Party (2014), Blessingway (2011–12) and Amulet (after Roberto Bolaño) for 4 pianos (2010), are quite different in nature from much of Garland’s previous writing for piano, more lyrical than dramatic in feeling. The Birthday Party in particular is the work of an artist looking back—pensive, even nostalgic, open to musical associations. The Birthday Party is explicitly a study in both memory and loss; in Garland’s own words it is not just a “toast” to Aki Takahashi, the dedicatee, on her birthday, but also to “... those who are still with us [and to] our friends and loved ones who are no longer alive.”

Blessingway takes its title from a Navajo ceremony, but its use here must be seen as reflecting a purely personal association of some kind for Garland rather than any literary or musical connection to the ceremony in the piece.

Amulet was written for Aki Takahashi. She herself consecutively recorded all four parts before they were mixed down. Garland’s original concept, explained in his introduction to the piece, was “. . . that these are not four separate pianos; but rather they form one big piano, the sum of their parts.” Amulet is in large part a humorous work, albeit one with a dark side.

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