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 Post subject: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 8:25 am 
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Location: Kansas City, MO
I posted a recording of this that I did at home a while back, but have recently performed it in a recital setting and got a much better quality recording. As the title implies, this piece is meant to be played in exactly one hour (the metronome marking is quarter = 59.225). Unfortunately, I was using the stopwatch function on my iPod for this performance, which apparently can be somewhat inaccurate. So while I finished in 59:55 on the iPod, the actual time is more like 1:00:25. Oh well. Still pretty close. The primary recording of this piece was done by Frederic Rzewski and clocks in around 54 minutes as it was originally released for LP. Being a few minutes faster, for me, greatly changes the feel of the piece, so if nothing else I did this recording for my own listening enjoyment.

The piece can be considered minimalist, but it doesn't use any explicit processes as might be found in early Glass or Reich. The program notes are interesting, and are meant to be read while the piece is being performed. To that end, I've attached them to this post. There isn't a particular way you should listen to this piece, as the notes imply. I will say, though, that you'll hear very distinct themes, each with different moods, which at times combined with one another. The transitions between themes are some of my favorite moments, as Johnson almost melts from one theme to the next.

I noticed that there aren't any Tom Johnson recordings on his front page, so if this gets added, his bio can be found at http://www.editions75.com/English/bioenglish.html

Hope you enjoy!

---------------
(Oct 31, 2010) UPDATE:

I posted this below as well, but I've released a CD of this work clocking in at EXACTLY 1:00:00, and you can listen to the entire piece at:

http://recordings.irritablehedgehog.com/album/tom-johnson-an-hour-for-piano?permalink


Last edited by AndyLeeG4 on Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:39 pm 
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Thanks for this long recording...did you play this from sheetmusic or have you memorised this little monster?
How on earth are you able to stay concentrated for such a long time!! I'm sure that there are not that much pianists who are able to do this....

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:46 am 
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I didn't have this piece memorized. I don't know that I could, frankly; the changes are all so subtle. As far as the concentration goes, that came with practice. In fact, it took me a few run-through before I didn't zone out myself. Once I got the hang of it, though, the piece flew by. It never felt like an hour once I was getting into it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:32 pm 
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Thought I'd give this post a little bump. I know I first posted a recording in November of last year, but requested that it not be put on the site yet as I didn't like the quality of the recording. This recording is much better quality, and I'd love to have it on the site if possible. Obviously, given the size of the file and bandwidth/financial issues you're having, I'd understand if it weren't. Also, I understand that this piece isn't exactly, ahem, everyone's cup of tea. :)

I would appreciate it if you could update my bio. I've finally landed a university position and am really excited about it!

Thanks for your help.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:46 pm 
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I have updated your bio. Not sure about the piece, though...

Congratulations on the new job!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:41 pm 
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Ok, this is up in the 'various' composer category.

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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:51 am 
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I know this is a rather old thread, but I thought I'd keep everyone posted on things. I have completed a recording of An Hour for Piano for the Irritable Hedgehog label. You can stream the entire thing at:

http://recordings.irritablehedgehog.com/album/tom-johnson-an-hour-for-piano?permalink.

I hope you enjoy.

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My Latest CD of William Duckworth's Time Curve Preludes - http://bit.ly/qEXX72
My CD of Ann Southam: Soundings for a New Piano - http://bit.ly/noVr7S
My CD of Tom Johnson: An Hour for Piano - http://bit.ly/dF1Ywq
Professional Site - http://randrewlee.com


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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:08 pm 
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Location: Lyon, France
Hello Andy,
I have been quite excited by this unusual post - more often, people submit short pieces that are easier to listen and more likely to attract comments. Since I did not want to stay one hour watching my computer and listening the music, I have downloaded the piece on my mp3 walkman and I listened it during a night of insomnia, in bed. I may have missed some minutes because of a small nap, but I think I was quite focused most of the time. This is quite an interesting experience!
I have to say that, although I've heard many times about Phil Glass or Steve Reich, I never did to date the effort to try to get into this world, so this is my first trip in repetitive, minimalist music. This last term fully applies: steady tempo, no dynamics, no attack difference between notes. Then comes inevitably a question: what a performer can bring in such a music as compared to a computer ? Hence, I remember now that when I was a teenager, I had opportunities to listen a group called Tangerine Dream, who used only synthesizers and electronic instruments to create repetitive music. The effect was similar (kind of trance after a while) and the music performed automatically (at least it is my guess)... Therefore, isn't a music ideally rendered by an acoustic piano equipped with a MIDI system and controlled by a computer (like the Yamaha disk klavier) ?
I am not making this suggestion to say that your interpretation lacks accuracy or regularity. It seemed to me quite perfect in this style. But the competition between human beings and computers is a matter of anxiousness for me...
Apart from this subjective obsession, I must thank you for this piece, and congratulations for holding out during one full hour or so !

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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:51 pm 
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A question for you, Francois: Were you able to sleep afterward?

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my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:26 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
A question for you, Francois: Were you able to sleep afterward?

Oh yes, a very relaxing night ! Did you know PS could cure hardest insomnias, and for free ?

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
François Couperin (1668-1733)


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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 5:33 pm 
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Francois de Larrard wrote:
pianolady wrote:
A question for you, Francois: Were you able to sleep afterward?

Oh yes, a very relaxing night ! Did you know PS could cure hardest insomnias, and for free ?


If only that were true for me. PS 'gives' me insomnia...

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my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:24 pm 
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To answer your question Francois, I do think it is important for this particular piece to be performed by a human. Yes, in general it calls for an extremely precise tempo (quarter = 59.225 bpm), but aside from that I think much is missing if you were to have this done on via computer. Even a metronomoe would have stifled the piece, I think.

When I did a professional recording, I debating quite a bit about whether I should have an iPod with a metronome track so that everything was exactly even concerning pacing. (This wouldn't have been an option when the piece was written in 1971, of course. In fact, I don't know how difficult it would be to even get a beat track at exactly that tempo.) In practice, though, I didn't like how I played it with the metronome clicking in my head. So much of my attention was drawn to the beat-to-beat level that I lost something in performance. Thankfully, my producer had more faith in me than I did, and really encouraged me to try without. I ended up being much more pleased with the musical outcome, and was even able to nail it at exactly an hour for the recording.

Now, I still tried to keep a precisely even tempo, but that doesn't mean that I didn't (try to) do quite a bit in terms of shaping line or creating different tone qualities for different section. There was a lot of thought and work that went into the professional recording that I do think would be lost if it were done via computer.

That being said, I know that there are many composers who are very successful using electronics (sometimes combined with live players), but for this particular piece, I think much would be lost, and for the most part I think those that were intended to be performed are in the same boat.

Thanks for your interest!

(You can stream the CD, which is both a better performance and a much higher-quality sound - http://recordings.irritablehedgehog.com/album/tom-johnson-an-hour-for-piano?permalink)

_________________
My Latest CD of William Duckworth's Time Curve Preludes - http://bit.ly/qEXX72
My CD of Ann Southam: Soundings for a New Piano - http://bit.ly/noVr7S
My CD of Tom Johnson: An Hour for Piano - http://bit.ly/dF1Ywq
Professional Site - http://randrewlee.com


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 Post subject: Re: Tom Johnson - An Hour for Piano
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:07 pm 
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Location: Lyon, France
Hi Andy,
You convinced me that having the piece played by a pianist rather than by a computer provides more pleasure... to the pianist :)
Regards,

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
François Couperin (1668-1733)


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