Sally Whitwell: The Good, the Bad and the Awkward [CD review]

Those of you who listen to ABC Classic FM in the mornings will likely have heard last week’s feature album The Good, The Bad and the Awkward, by Melbourne-based composer and pianist Sally Whitwell. If not, I highly recommend you have a listen on iTunes.

This is an album unlike any other solo piano album from the last decade. Refreshingly, it isn’t about the big works of Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt that we hear all the time. Nor is it about flashy pianistic pyrotechnics; indeed, Sally plays pieces that are in the technical realm of most amateur pianists.

Put simply, this album explores all those great new piano pieces (written for films – hence the title) that aren’t normally performed as a solo works. There are a couple of romantic classics (Debussy’s Claire de Lune, Schubert’s G flat major Impromptu), but otherwise it’s based around Yann Tiersen’s fabulous score from the movie Amelie with a number of extra film tracks thrown in. Why hasn’t anyone done this before?

Here’s the track listing:

THE GOOD

1 ROTA Gelsomina LA STRADA

2 NYMAN Candlefire THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

3 SATIE Gnossienne No. 1 THE PAINTED VEIL

4 GLASS I’m Going to Make a Cake / The Poet Acts THE HOURS

5 SCHUBERT Impromptu in G-flat major, D899 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY

6 NYMAN Big My Secret THE PIANO

THE BAD

7 BADALAMENTI L’Exécution THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN

8 BADALAMENTI Falling TWIN PEAKS

9 DELIBES Flower Duet from Lakmé THE HUNGER

0 DEBUSSY Clair de lune OCEAN’S ELEVEN

10 HAYDN Adagio e cantabile from Piano Sonata in E-flat major INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE

11 YARED C’est le vent, Betty BETTY BLUE

THE AWKWARD

12 D’ALESSIO Title Music DELICATESSEN

13 BACH Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I BAGDAD CAFÉ

14-( TIERSEN Six Pieces for Piano, Volume 2 (Selections) AMÉLIE

15 KATS-CHERNIN Russian Rag MARY AND MAX

EPILOGUE

16 MORRICONE The Good, the Bad and the Ugly THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

I particularly liked Yared’s track from Betty Blue – a kind of interrupted jazz waltz. It’s now definitely on my list of must-learn recital pieces!

Sally’s other albums include works by Philip Glass and Michael Nyman (she must like the minimalists!) and she has a wealth of other recordings, compositions and appearances to her name. Check out her website. She also has a number of recordings on her SoundCloud.

Sally plays:

The Brisbane Powerhouse
Friday 20 July, 2012
Bookings here

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Tim Topham

Lead blogger and coffee snob
Best-known for his blogging and teaching, Tim is also a well-respected presenter, performer and accompanist based in Melbourne, Australia. You can check him out on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
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