Fun and enjoyable
Garth Terry | Sykesville, MD United States | 10/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After purchasing this CD I found myself playing it nonstop for some time. I was familiar with some of Nyman's other music and wanted more material to listen to, and this fit the bill perfectly. The piano concerto is largely taken from the songs he wrote for the movie "The Piano" cast into a 20th century concerto form. The performance is clear and well balanced. Some may find it a bit repeatitive and really lacking a continuous development of the themes, but those who appreciate minimalist music will enjoy the cd. MGV is based around driving rhythms throughout the piece, very similar to the music written in the Peter Greenway films for which Nyman is most famous. More minimalist than the concerto, I think this is the better of the two offerings (especially the first section). As a whole the two compositions complement each other very well, making it another great album from the Argo label."
Emotional height achieved
aston | Homebush, NSW Australia | 02/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album contains two pieces of music: first being the full piano concerto, based on soundtrack. The second is an orchestral music called MGV, which was written for the inauguration of the TGV Northern Europe Train Line. Opinions towards this album has been mixed, reflecting the divided opinions among classical listeners towards minimalist music in general. Again, like most minimalist music (especially Michael Nyman's work), you really cannot rely on reviewers' opinions alone. You must decide for yourself.In my humble opinions, Nyman has successfully transformed the various sountracks in into one piano concerto. The level of technical skills required to play the Piano Concerto has been raised, obviously to accomodate the fact that a professional pianist (Kathryn Scott) rather than an amateur pianist/professional actress (Holly Hunter) was playing the piece. The emotional impact has not been compromised by this transformation, and the influence of Scottish folk tune is still very evident. In the second piece, MGV, Nyman took the audience through an imaginery train journey, with emphasis on the sense of adventure, wonder and triumph. One can see in it Nyman's intention to celebrate human achievement and human triumph over odds. On both counts, this album has successfully achieved what most minimalist music strives to achieve - an elation of human senses and starting the fire of human imaginations."
The piano concerto is overrated, but MGV is exhilarating
G.D. | Norway | 03/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those who doesn't know, Nyman's piano concerto is a reworking of his film music for the movie "The Piano". The material is thus given a far more cohesive structure (and the piano part itself is largely refashioned), and the balance between piano and orchestra is also altered - the concerto uses a larger orchestra allowing the sound of the piano to be much more integrated into the orchestral texture. The work is continuous but divided into four sections, to some extent based on which moods the film music was supposed to represent. Does it work? Not really - the material is simply too undistinguished and cloyingly sentimental; this is heart-on-sleeve music in the wrong sense. At least Kathryn Stott and the RLPO play it for all its worth and manage to bring a certain sense of drama to it.
MGV Musique à Grande Vitesse was written for the inauguration of the TGV North-European line in France, and is on the whole a far more interesting work. The idea is apparently to describe - or rather, perhaps, capture the spirit of - a non-stop train journey (somewhat in the tradition of Honegger's famous piece, but on a larger scale). The abstract minimalist style is, of course, very well suited for that kind of thing, and the end result is quite spell-binding with chugging rhythms and quite varied, sweeping melodic fragments (ending in an unabashedly glorious last segment).
Performance are good in both works, and the sound quality, while well-balanced, is a little too close in the piano concerto, but works very well in MGV. All in all, I would recommend the disc for MGV (an excellent introduction to the composer's regular style, and one of his more effective works overall, as far as my knowledge of his oeuvre goes). The disc also comes with a CD of samples of contemporary (and cross-over) music from the Argo label (at least my copy did), which is a nice bonus and lets you hear, in particular, an excerpt from Paul Schoenfield's exhilarating Four Parables."