When Erik Griswold heads to the great outdoors, he follows in the footsteps of other composers who have taken inspiration from their environment. Only in this case, it is neither New England nor Alaska but the Australian bush, specifically Queensland.
Four Places in Queensland is a musical landscape in the tradition of Charles Ives, Peter Sculthorpe, Annea Lockwood, and John Luther Adams. But it is also a work that traces the inner world of four distinct pianists: four works, four places, played by four different performers. Mt. Nebo, Cunninghams Gap, Condamine, and Girraween are places of scenic beauty in Australia that also hold deep personal significance to the four artists Anna Grinberg, Stephen Emmerson, the composer, and Liam Viney. The sites of significant family gatherings, environmental music projects, personal meditations, and childhood memories, these are places to which the pianists have formed strong connections over many years.
Mt. Nebo (Anna Grinberg) is a small town set in the dappled light of a dense rainforest, surrounded by beautiful bush tracks. Cunninghams Gap (Stephen Emmerson) is a steep rise separating coast from Great Dividing Range that boasts panoramic views across ancient volcanic plugs. The tiny, rural town of Condamine (Erik Griswold), whose namesake river is memorialized in bush poetry and song, is also home to the rustic Condamine Cowbell. Girraween (Liam Viney), or “place of many flowers,” is a national park known for its dramatic granite boulders.
Alternately meditative and serene, dramatic and turbulent, light and heavy, Four Places in Queensland reflects rhythms and resonances of nature, connecting inner and outer worlds.
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.
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. — E.G.
“Cunninghams Gap for solo piano was a largely reflective meditation on the natural wonder west of Brisbane, featuring a sublime, extended passage for right hand only and an ending of profound beauty.” - Martin Buzacott, The Australian
released March 26, 2021
Piano: Anna Grinberg, Stephen Emmerson, Erik Griswold, Liam Viney
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Geoff McGahan.
Recorded at Nickson Room with support from the School of Music at the University of Queensland.
The cover image features “Piano Bloom (Harrigans Lane)” by Bloom Collective, photographed by Greg Harm.
Every object has two functions - to be put to use and to be possessed...The last note of one phrase sometimes serves as the
first note of the next one...As a garden is full of flowers, so this species of counterpoint should be full of excellences of all kinds, a plastic melodic line, liveliness of movement, and beauty and variety of form.......more