Morton Subotnick

(b. 1933)

mode 306

Complete Piano Works


mode 306  Morton SUBOTNICK Subotnick Edition 4: Complete Works for Piano: The Other Piano * (2007) for piano & live electronics; Falling Leaves * (2012)for piano solo; Liquid Strata (1977) for piano & ghost electronics; Preludes for piano:  I. The Blind Owl * (1957); II. The Feast * (1961) for piano solo; IV. (1966) for piano & tape  — SooJin Anjou, piano; Morton Subotnick, electronics & voice  *first recordings 96/24-bit

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Complete Piano Works

The Other Piano * (2007)  29:22
for piano & live electronics

Falling Leaves * (2012)  8:43
for piano solo

Liquid Strata (1977)  26:38
for piano & ghost electronics

Preludes for piano  14:41
I. The Blind Owl * (1957) for piano solo  6:08
II. The Feast * (1961) for piano solo  2:21
IV. (1966) for piano & tape  6:12

* First recording

SooJin Anjou, piano
Morton Subotnick, electronics & voice

This release brings all of Subotnick’s piano music together on one disc for the first time, along with four first recordings. All supervised by the composer.

Liquid Strata is an important work in Subotnick’s oeuvre. Here the electronic component is what he calls “ghost electronics,” and this is the first of 11 Ghost Pieces. In these works, Subotnick sought to address technology in a way that highlights rather than compromises the inherent features and strengths of acoustical instruments. This was an alternative to music for instruments and tape or to simply utilize the processed sounds of an acoustical instrument as an electronic sound source.

In the Ghost Pieces, the Buchla synthesizer is triggered by its original touch sensitive ‘keys’ plus the expressivity of the human voice was used to articulate gestural shapes (for example a complex crescendo/diminuendo). In the Ghost Pieces, Subotnick pre-recorded the vocal “energy shapes” on tape. These audio signals were played back (but not heard), combined with sine tones, and sent to an envelope follower. The voltages generated trigger Buchla-produced pitch, amplitude, modulation and stereo panning.

All of the Ghost Pieces are to be performed live on a proscenium stage, with speakers in front of the performer. “The performer should be hardly aware of what’s happening, but just playing for you. The electronics are doing something else, beyond what the performer hears from the instrument. They suggest another dimension….”

The Other Piano is a continuation of the Ghost pieces. The composer refers to the electronics as “a quadraphonic sound painting [spread] throughout the auditorium, done on the spot, intuitively, by a sound painter. … one always hears the real piano and the transformations are a fantasy, changing in time and space, whirling around the room …”

Subotnick drew conceptual ideas for Falling Leaves from Scarlatti sonatas, a “sense of Scarlatti, but not derivative,” particularly repeated notes, the virtuosic crossing of hands, and the idea of cadences.

The early Preludes Nos. 1 & 2 are post-Webern influenced works. Prelude No. 4 is the first piece where Subotnick worked with the Buchla synthesizer. The electronic component is composed onto stereo tape, which is played alongside the live piano.

Liner notes by Bob Gluck and the composer.

SooJin Anjou graduated from the Juilliard School in New York as the only person ever to win both of Juilliard’s undergraduate commencement prizes, for achievement in music and the liberal arts. Ms. Anjou — born in South Korea, raised in the United States, educated in New York, Budapest and Berlin — has performed as soloist all over the world since her debut, at age 16, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Well-known for her adventurous and inquisitive spirit, Ms. Anjou has captivated audiences in concerts of fortepiano and electronic music, as well as in plays and improvisation-based theater productions alongside actors and dancers.


Also by Morton Subotnick on Mode Records:
Morton Subotnick: The Electronic Works 1 – The Electronic Works 1 (CD or DVD-A)  (mode 97)
Morton Subotnick: The Electronic Works 2 (CD or DVD-A)  (mode 132)
Morton Subotnick: The Electronic Works 3 (CD or DVD)  (mode 237)

Morton SUBOTNICK profile