Erik Griswold: Four Places in Queensland
(Neuma Records - March 26, 2021)
Erik Griswold created Four Places in Queensland as a musical sketchbook of the Australian bushland. The pieces not only cover different places, he also has them performed by different piansts, each of whom has a connection to the place they are depicting musically.
The pieces follow the natural rhythms and patterns of nature. Mt. Nebo, a small town in the middle of a dense rainforest, is full of bird trills and splashing water, the Leapfrog movement interstingly percussive.
Cunningham's Gap is a steep rise that separates the coast from the Great Dividing Range, a place of ancient volcanoes and sweeping views. The waltz begins with a familiar feel, quickly develping in different directions. Here, the Spring movement is strongly rhythmic, and darkly melodic in sections - a different character entirely.
Rain sounds like its sonic equivalent - fluid in bell-like tones. In contrast, Bliss is more agitated and energetic, building to a peak of emtion with an elegant right-hand pattern.
Griswold plays the section named after the tiny rural town of Condamine, a place where the river dominates the landscape. The single movement is searching and inquisitive, with unusual articulations and shifts in tone.
Griswold's percussive piano technique:
Girraween (Liam Viney), or “place of many flowers,” is a national park known for its dramatic granite boulders. Here, the Rain is light and playful, running down in rivulets rather than torrents, while Leapfrog is dramatic and driving.
Erik Griswold is an Australian-American composer/pianist who, alongside percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson, is also known as part of the Clocked Out Duo. Four Places in Queensland marks a return to solo piano for Griswold, who has recently created works for toy piano, bowed piano, prepared piano, and the sixteen vintage pianos of the outback Piano Mill.
The composer talks about the pieces in the liner notes.
"In composing Four Places in Queensland, I responded to each of the locations, spending time in each setting, listening to the soundscapes and absorbing the surroundings. But I also thought carefully about the performers, tailoring the music to each individual’s playing style and personality. Four Places in Queensland celebrates four breathtaking landscapes, and four pianists’ close connections to the land."
1. Bell Birds; 2. Spring; 3. Strum; 4. Leapfrog 1
Anna Grinberg, piano
5. Waltz; 6. Spring; 7. Rain; 8. Bliss
Stephen Emmerson, piano
Erik Griswold, piano
10. Spring 3; 11. Rain 2; 12. Leapfrog 2
Liam Viney, piano
Cunningham's Gap - Waltz