“After having joined Cage’s new musical world of sounds, the toy piano started increasingly to acquire the status of an instrument in its own right. Nowadays networks of performers and composers across the Western and Asian worlds explore the sonorities and possibilities of toy piano, continuing the path started by Cage. It is a curious fact, and perhaps worthy of reflection, that, in an era devoted to the highest technologies, a number of musicians nowadays choose to devote themselves to an arguably imperfect instrument. The lack of intonation, unpredictable overtones, noisy mechanism and difficulties to master, are ‘deficiencies’ that don’t seem to hinder but instead inspire this curious play-community.” (A.L., 2018)
The pieces included in this CD highlight the ongoing and growing interest in this instrument. Most of them have been premiered at the Music as Play Festival – The toy piano takes the stage, held in Como (Italy) in 2019. Works by Diana Blom, Antonio Giacometti, and Paul Smith have been especially commissioned for this recording.
Japanese Knitting: Written for toy piano (C to C) and three knitting needles, Japanese Knitting knits together fragments of Sakura, a well-known Japanese traditional song, with the sounds, patterns, pleasures and frustrations of knitting. Like a Japanese knitting pattern, the piece uses a shortened form to convey a lot of information.
Diana Blom (Australia), was born in New Zealand and lives in Sydney. A composer and keyboard player – piano, harpsichord, toy piano – Diana has written several works for toy piano and piano/toy piano (one player) for Antonietta Loffredo. Her Composition studies were with Peter Sculthorpe. Scores and CDs are published by Wirripang Pty. Ltd., Orpheus Music and Wai-te-Ata Press. Diana is Associate Professor of Music at Western Sydney University.
Lines: Inspired by the multi-part painting Rhapsody, drawn by the American visual artist Jennifer Bartlett, Lines was commissioned by Japanese pianist Kazue Nakamura and premiered in 2016. Rhapsody consists of 987 square plates divided into seven thematic sections and Line is one of them. After having analyzed the structure of it, Rica made some groups of all plates under several classifications by the painted lines. Then she matched each line to specific musical figures – the straight line to one tone, the curved line to arpeggio, the bold line to harmony, and so on. Each musical figure was placed according to the original art work’s arrangement.
Rica Narimoto (Japan) completed her M.A. and Doctorate degrees in Music at the Aichi University of the Arts and has been awarded many prizes including the Irino Prize and the Asian Cultural Council Individual Fellowship Award (USA). Most of her recent works derive from analyses of a variety of art forms such as non-Western music, visual arts and literature as well as various kinds of natural phenomena. She is Associate Professor at Aichi University of the Arts.
Quasi rituale: In this piece the author gives great importance to the gestures of the performer, as well as to the continued alternation of sound and silence that creates a sense of waiting. The toy percussion (cymbal, bell and drum) and indefinite pitches produced by the fingers, are pre-eminent, more than the toy piano, which momentarily emerges only in the middle of the piece then suddenly disappears. This work is also permeated with irony, being the parody of a ceremony in some sort.
Gaston Polle Ansaldi (Italy) has studied piano with Alessandro Commellato, Andrzej Tatarski, Pier Narciso Masi; contemporary music with Maria Grazia Bellocchio, Emanuele Arciuli and chamber music with Bruno Canino. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Composition at the Conservatory of Milan with Giorgio Tedde; he is currently finishing his Master’s Degree with Paolo Rimoldi. Gaston is founder member of Ensemble Codec.
Tic-Tac-Toy: Imagine entering in an old watchmaker’s shop: broken clockworks continue obsessively ticking in a strange way, each one with his own rhythm. Their sounds move you far back in time and space, in a remote land with an ancient melody in the background. Suddenly a disquieting cuckoo brings you back to reality until it fatally dies.
Marco Pedrazzi (Italy) is a pianist, composer and music educator. He has been commissioned by festivals such as Biennale Musica, EstOvest Festival, AngelicA. He is also a film score composer: his latest works include The Forgotten Front by Lorenzo Stanzani and Before the world set on fire directed by Jaclyn Bethany. He is one of the founders of In.Nova Fert Collective.
Oceans of Time: The transformed sound of a clock ticking – a timeless sound depicting anything else but timelessness. If present is the most real perception of time, almost all of what we perceive as the present is already past.
Mats O Hansson (Sweden) has an MFA in composition from the University of Music in Gothenburg, Sweden. He composes mainly chamber music for ensembles and soloists, but also music for stage and film as well as sound and video art. Beside Sweden, his music has also been performed in Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Greece, Poland, Spain, South Korea, Argentina and USA.
Bâchage Prelude: The piece is constructed from two small sets of pitches that initially appear in whole notes in the bass. The first is Bb-A-C-B, which, in German, is the well-known B-A-C-H cryptogram from the Art of the Fugue. The second is C-A-G-E, for John Cage who, with his Suite for Toy Piano in the mid-20th century, raised the curtain on concert performances of compositions exclusively for toy piano. These two sets of pitches are woven into the ‘fabric’ of the piece and reappear in inversions and retrogrades.
J.M. Block (USA) is a composer and pianist. In 2019 his Bâchage Prelude was chosen for performance at the Music as Play festival in Como, Italy. He has written works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, string quartet, woodwind quintet, solo works for piano, percussion, and double bass, as well as songs and electroacoustic works.
Constellations: This piece uses different musical gestures and the sounds of toy percussion to present the twelve constellations of the astrological zodiac. The changing tone and timbres are used to present both the constellations in the night sky and also the different personality associations with the twelve-star signs.
Paul Smith (Australia) is a composer and researcher based in Sydney who specialises in writing opera and music for the toy piano. He holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University and is the co-artistic director of Blush Opera. Paul has collaborated internationally and his music and operas have premiered in Singapore, the UK, Italy, the USA, and Armenia in addition to Australian festivals and concert performances.
Toy Dance: This is the third of a three-piece collection titled Toy Counterpoints. The peculiarity of Toy Dance lies in the use of repetitive scales and patterns, creating a hypnotic atmosphere of an inner ritual dance. Several contrapuntal procedures are used in the limited range of 25 notes. Quite elaborated ideas are combined with the naive and magical sound of the toy piano.
Mercedes Zavala (Spain) studied piano and composition at the Madrid Music Conservatory. She has worked as a pianist and composer with Grupo Secuencia, exploring theatrical and sociological aspects of musical performance. She worked for Radio Nacional de España and was President of Spanish Women in Music Society. She is in charge of the Composition Department at “Teresa Berganza” Conservatory of Madrid.
Three Pictures for Toy Piano: This little suite consists of three pieces, each one with a distinctive character and a different compositional style. Waterworks is based on permutations, with references to the whole tone scale, plus two-note chords percussive elements. Berceuse is inspired by a lullaby for choir composed by the composer’s grandfather L. Paterlini and it is a tribute to him. This piece is very tonal and conveys a sense of sweetness that contrasts with the third piece, Penguin Jokes, that conveys a funnier and more playful atmosphere.
Fabio Luppi (Italy) graduated in piano, wind band instrumentation and composition at the Conservatory of Bologna. He also specialized with the highest marks and honourable mention in choral conducting and choral composition, chamber music and harpsichord. He has won several piano and composition competitions.
Diversions: Written for a 25-key toy piano, the piece is also a musical toy, a kaleidoscope of sound, designed as a light-hearted piece to divert the audience’s attention and to amuse. Throughout the piece various musical layers are played that shift in relation to each other, evoking different musical combinations and patterns.
Chris Adams (New Zealand) is the Director of Performance Music at Auckland Grammar School. Chris has worked with a wide variety of soloists and groups including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia. His music has been performed around New Zealand, and in Australia, Britain, Hong Kong, Italy and Vietnam.
Direttore di latta: The inner philosophy of the piece is about being led by a tin conductor with a random feeling of rhythm. It seems like a dialogue between conductor and pianist at times, other times just a dictatorship of a tiny tin toy. The piece consists of three sections between which the performer has to wind up the tin robot drummer when the score indicates it.
Alicia S. Reyes (Spain) is a pianist and composer. She studied piano ending the professional degree with the Exceptional Prize in Composition and earned her Bachelor in Piano Performance at Bonifacio Gil Conservatory (Badajoz). She has written music for several musical projects and for the artistic platform a small apartment realizing Adoratio Idoli – an electronic mass album in 2020.
Toy, toy, toy!: This work was written as a tribute to Gyorgy Ligeti and contaminated by popular and early music. Three fast sections enhance the characteristic resonances of the toy piano and alternate with two central slow recitative sections. “Toi, toi, toi” is the expression used in performing arts to wish success and the title is intended as a wish.
Gian Paolo Luppi (Italy) graduated in composition, conducting, chorus conducting, instrumentation for wind band and piano at the Conservatory of Bologna where he currently teaches composition. He has been awarded many prizes in composition competitions. His scores have been published by Peters, Edipan and Ut Orpheus.
Chôrinho sambado para o Schroeder: Samba rhythms and variations of Tom Jobim’s Samba de uma nota só are organized in the formal frame of Brazilian chôro. Furthermore, a quotation from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is a tribute to Schroeder, the Peanut’s ‘toy-pianist’, partly virtuoso, partly philosopher, always fighting against the musical ignorance of his close friends. For the author, Schroeder also symbolises the child’s world of fantasy outside of the rules, proportions and ‘normality’.
Antonio Giacometti (Italy) graduated in composition at the Conservatory of Milan. He has been awarded prizes in thirty national and international composition competitions. Giacometti teaches composition at “O. Vecchi – A. Tonelli” Conservatory of Modena.
Album Notes Antonietta Loffredo
Pianist, toy pianist and musicologist, is a graduate of the Conservatorio “F.E. Dall’Abaco” in Italy and of the Conservatoire de Musique d’Issy les Moulineaux in France. She has also conducted studies in a teaching and educational context at the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage of Pavia University at Cremona and earned a Master of Music degree in musicology from the University of Milan with a thesis on the toy piano. An acclaimed interpreter of the contemporary piano and toy piano repertoire, she has performed in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Since 2004 she has been holding lectures and seminars around the world on the subject of contemporary art music. Her CDs of newly composed piano music include “Childhood in Music”, “Shadows and Silhouettes – new music with a Chinese-Western confluence” and “Antarctica – new music for piano and/or toy piano” released by Wirripang Pty. Ltd. Her book, entitled “The Toy Piano - From the Playroom to the Concert Platform”, has been published by Ut Orpheus Edizioni (Bologna, Italy) in 2018.
Antonio Giacometti è nato a Brescia il 29 dicembre 1957. Dopo aver compiuto studi umanistici ed essersi diplomato in “Nuova Didattica della Composizione” presso il Conservatorio di Milano, ha consolidato la propria preparazione nel campo della pedagogia musicale, settore nel quale s’è impegnato attivamente fin dal 1984, lasciando significativi contributi sia come pubblicista che come operatore didattico
Premiato o segnalato in concorsi nazionali ed internazionali di composizione, (tra i quali Premio V. Bucchi, Roma, 1982 e 1988; Concours International de Composition pour guitare de Sablè sur Sarthe, 1983 e 1987; Concours international de composition MC2, Avignon 1984; Secondo Concorso Internazionale Antidogma Musica di Torino, 1985; Trio Basso Köln Internationaler Kompositions-Wettbewerb, 1988; I Concorso nazionale di composizione d’insieme per ragazzi, Como, 1989; IX Concorso nazionale di composizione “Ennio Porrino”, Cagliari, 1991, “Kazimir Serocki”, Warsaw 2000, “IV Concorso internazionale Città di Udine”, Udine 2002, Hommage à Bartòk, Hungarian Radio, Budapest 2006, “I° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Musicale per Orchestra giovanile Bruno Maderna”, Treviso, 2010, “I° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione “Monodramma”, Desenzano 2013), ha composto, dal 1979 ad oggi, più di centosessanta opere solistiche, da camera, sinfoniche e di teatro musicale, molte delle quali eseguite in Festival e Rassegne di tutto il mondo.
E’ stato membro del Direttivo nazionale della SIEM (Società Italiana per l’Educazione Musicale) e Presidente della sezione territoriale di Brescia, con la quale collabora dal 1984 nella definizione di strategie d’intervento didattico musicale per l’infanzia e nel settore pubblicistico, pubblicando articoli e saggi per l’organo ufficiale dell’Associazione, il trimestrale Musica Domani (sul quale, oltre a contributi periodici, ha curato dal 2006 al 2012 la rubrica fissa “Cantieri sonori”) e i relativi Quaderni monografici.
Interessato ai problemi dell’analisi musicale, in particolare allo studio delle sue implicazioni nella didattica della composizione, è stato tra i fondatori, e per nove anni consigliere nazionale, della SIdAM (Società Italiana di Analisi Musicale). Per più di un decennio ha collaborato con la Rivista di teoria e pedagogia musicale “Analisi” (edizioni Ricordi/Curci).
Docente in ruolo di Composizione presso l’ISSM di Modena e Carpi “Orazio Vecchi – Antonio Tonelli”, di cui è anche Direttore Didattico dal 2013, viene regolarmente invitato da Enti privati e Istituzioni pubbliche (Università, Ministero della PI, IRRSAE regionali) a tenere seminari e corsi d’aggiornamento e di formazione didattica per insegnanti della scuola dell’obbligo, relativi in particolare al ruolo delle esperienze di musica d’insieme e di composizione nella formazione musicale di bambini e ragazzi. Nel 2011 e nel 2015 si è recato in Brasile, dove è stato invitato a tenere Masterclass sulla sua attività compositiva e conferenze-laboratorio sulla musica d’insieme per bambini e ragazzi dall’Università Federale di Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), dall’Università di Barra Mansa (Rio de Janeiro), dall’Universidade Federal de Bahia a Salvador de Bahia e presso l’Istituto “Villa Lobos”, dipartimento di musica, letteratura e arte dell’Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro (UniRio).
Le sue composizioni sono edite da Ricordi, Suvini-Zerboni, EDIPAN, Rugginenti, Bérben, Editions Delatour, Agenda Edizioni Musicali, Sconfinarte,RAI.COM.
Gian Paolo Luppi: He studied at the Conservatory "G. B. Martini" in Bologna, graduating in Composition, Conducting, Choral Conducting, Instrumentation for Wind Band, and Piano. He has been teaching in Italian conservatories since 1981 and has become Professor of Composition at the Conservatory of Bologna since 1996. Winner of numerous national and international competitions, he has published with Peters, Edipan Ut Orpheus, and other publishers. His music is broadcast by all European radios and is featured on various CDs and LPs. He has been a guest lecturer at various European institutions and at the Aichi University of Nagoya.
Rica Narimoto: Composer based in Japan, she completed her M.A. and Doctorate of Music at the Aichi University of the Arts and has received several awards including the Irino Prize, the Asian Cultural Council Individual Fellowship Award (USA). She says about her work: “Most of my recent works are derived from my own analyses of a variety of art forms such as non-Western music, visual arts, and literature as well as various kinds of natural phenomena. I do not aim to represent these things in my music but rather to consider them as sources of inspiration when I devise new compositional methods. In particular, I am drawn to their inherent aesthetics.” She is an associate professor of Aichi University of the Arts.