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A Pianist's I Ching (3CD)

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A Pianist's I Ching
A Pianist's I Ching


For an English composer who has been admired by audiences and critics for half a century, Geoffrey Poole has remained a surprisingly enigmatic figure. Even with numerous broadcasts, portrait events, prestigious commissions from BBC, BCMG and the Hallé, and excellent reviews, critics have generally struggled to pin him down stylistically. Phrases such as 'eclectic' and 'zig-zag development' abound; 'not even student standard' jostles with 'astonishing originality'. The composer's personal view is that while 'The Biz' wants you to repeat your winning formula, lifetime is limited and the imagination deserves to explore everything that attracts it. This has included some unusual concertos, one for Javanese Gamelan and Western orchestra (Swans Reflecting Elephants), another for African Drummers and five ensembles (Two-Way Talking), and a concerto for Jazz piano and Brass (Lucifer), each of them broadcast on Radio 3. But here, in the 20-year project that is A Pianist's I Ching, we may perceive a synthesis of Poole's love of exploration and an explicit, limiting, framework. The I Ching (the ancient Chinese 'Classic of Changes') is both an oracle and a philosophical treatise in which every situation is regarded as a further stepping stone in our developing consciousness. Change (Transformation through Time), is of course the essential condition of Music, but by composing a short character-piece to each one of the I Ching's 64 states of being, Poole has pressed his imagination into concepts and feelings unfamiliar to Western minds and ears. In many of these pieces the musical language is readily approachable, yet the outcome can be surprising. Such is the nature of Change. The title A Pianist's I Ching merits comment. Geoffrey Poole is many things; a dedicated teacher, a retired Professor, an environmentalist, a Grandpa but a Pianist? Not in the sense of an academy-trained performer, even though he did acquire an LRAM back in the days when external applicants could sit the exam. But yes, in the sense that he has played piano from year dot. He could play all the Beethoven Sonatas when he was fifteen; in fact, he did so in one weekend in September 1964, and analysed all 96 movements too. He is a pianist in the sense of knowing what all the notes are in whatever he hears, where and how they would be played on the keyboard, how to evoke magical textures; his musicality is inherently pianistic. So, while several of the tracks on this disc were premiered at the Purcell Room by outstanding young pianists (they are recognised in the composer's dedications, listed in the sleeve booklet) and by Geoff's own reckoning they performed much more brilliantly than he does this disc closes the interpretation gap between text and execution; it establishes what the score was designed to achieve. In the opinion of critic and author Stephen Johnson, "Humour and hushed awe, lyrical poetry and spiky playfulness, romantic yearning and teasing irony the range is immense, conveyed through a chain of endlessly inventive miniatures, beautifully conceived for the piano, and beautifully played by the composer himself."


  1. Name
  2. Creation Quakes
  3. Thunder
  4. Thaw
  5. Follow The River
  6. Carrot And Stick
  7. Hand In Hand
  8. Chewing It Over
  9. Truly
  10. Resonance
  11. Peeling Off
  12. Coordination
  13. Contemplation
  14. Procession (with Elephants)
  15. Nowhere Else To Go
  16. Sunrise
  17. Drawing Together
  18. Mountain Range
  19. Juniper
  20. Courtship
  21. Precipice
  22. Impasse
  23. Skylark
  24. The Wayfarer
  25. Subterranean Mountain
  26. The Beauty Of Flames
  27. The Family
  28. Ornament
  29. The Patience Of A Saint
  30. Zenith
  31. The Perfect Order
  32. Revolution
  33. Union Of Men
  34. The Well
  35. Healing
  36. Sapling
  37. Gentle
  38. Fifty Years, Come April
  39. The Cauldron
  40. Little Minx
  41. The Last Straw
  42. Spent
  43. Contention
  44. Tough Love
  45. Subterranean Currents
  46. Deliverance
  47. Voyage Across A Dark Sea
  48. Crowd Control
  49. Life Goes On
  50. Watching For Rain
  51. The Meek Shall Inherit
  52. Concord
  53. Still No Rain?
  54. The Commander
  55. When You Got It All
  56. Cloudburst
  57. The Dragons Breath
  58. Great Start .....
  59. Lagoon
  60. Tarn At Noon
  61. An Ingenious System Of Canals And Sluices
  62. Sailing The Broads
  63. Tread So So Softly
  64. The Tricked Bride
  65. Reconciled
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