Composers: Adams, Pärt, McPhee, Hannan, Bresnick, Naidoo
Compositions: Hallelujah Junction, Hymn to a Great City for two pianos, Balinese Ceremonial Music, Cloudcatcher, Handwork, Diamond Morning
Performers: Viney-Grinberg Duo
Catalogue Number: TALL POPPIES TP252
After spending a decade in the United States building an impressive international profile, pianists Liam Viney and Anna Grinberg are now based in Australia. As an Ensemble in Residence at the University of Queensland, the Viney-Grinberg Duo teaches, conducts research and commissions new piano works for four hands. They have released two recent CDs of piano duets for ABC Classics: Invisible Dances (2018) and Four Hands: Australian Music for Piano (2017).
Diamond Morning focuses on minimalist music, particularly “its ability to move in time, space and memory – in a maximal way,” as Viney and Grinberg put it in their eloquent liner notes. Each of these pieces evokes place in some manner: John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction, named for a truck stop on the California-Nevada border, plays on the rhythmic and syllabic qualities of the title to create ‘an ecstatic, clangourous continuum’ unique to the sonic capabilities of two pianos.
Canadian composer Colin McPhee (1900-1964) was an ethnomusicologist whose early and comprehensive engagement with the music of Indonesia brought him international renown. His three transcriptions that comprise Balinese Ceremonial Music (1934) are fascinating minimalist precursors. Diamond Morning is named for the four-movement work by South African composer Shaun Naidoo (1962-2012) commissioned by Viney and Grinberg in 2007. Splashes of colour give way to complex cyclic layerings that eventually resolve in a glistening carpet of silence.
Other highlights include Cloudcatcher I by Michael Hannan (b. 1949), a sonic response to the sacred Wollumbin mountain in Northern NSW whose distinctive peak seems often to be catching clouds. As Australia’s only piano duo actively commissioning and recording new works, Viney and Grinberg are making a valuable and prolific contribution to the development of new repertoire for two pianos. This superb recording captures the nuance of these unique sonorities and virtuosic performances, making for captivating listening.