While Canadian composer Colin McPhee lived in Bali only for the decade of the 1930s, he was so enamored of the music of the island’s local percussion orchestra, the gamelan, that it shaped his entire compositional style. His Balinese musician friends were, for their part, intrigued when his piano arrived. As described in his book, A House in Bali, they were puzzled by the thick-sounding Western-style chords, but they quickly were impressed by the way one or two people at the keyboard could imitate the multi-layered simultaneous patterns of their own music. While in Bali, McPhee made over 40 direct transcriptions of Balinese gamelan compositions. His partner was the young British expatriate composer, Benjamin Britten. The set of transcriptions comprises three works, arranged in a typically Western fast/slow/fast suite. Since Balinese music with its patterns was an inspiration for minimalism (which McPhee, who died in 1964, did not quite live to witness) this music sounds surprisingly modern.
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Recorded on April 26, 2013 at the 'Piano Ecstasy' concert presented by Soundstreams at Koerner Hall in Toronto, Canada. Performed by Simon Docking and Gregory Oh.