My work is engaged with what lies beneath the surface. By unearthing elaborate, intricate, underlying structural possibilities and buried architecture, my aim is to build complexity embedded below the immediate aural impression.
Dances and Canons is the debut ECM recording of both composer Kate Moore and pianist Saskia Lankhoorn. Moore was born in England in 1979 and lives now in the Netherlands (where she studied with Louis Andriessen, among others). However, it is Australia, where she grew up, which has left the strongest impression on her creative imagination, its teeming natural soundscapes transmuted in her music of swirling pulse patterns and shifting, layered planes of sound. In Dutch pianist Lankhoorn (also born 1979), Moore has a dedicated and resourceful interpreter. “It’s impossible to listen to this music,” writes George Miller in the liner note, “and not wonder about the enormous technical demands it makes of the performer.” Lankhoorn, no stranger to demanding music, made her first broadcast performance on Dutch radio at the age of 16, playing Schoenberg; she met Moore in 2003 when both were at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. When Lankhoorn co-founded the new music group Ensemble Klang, Moore was one of the first composers she programmed. Since then they have worked together on numerous occasions and in contexts including concerts, dance, theatre, film and installations.
The pieces on this album, produced by Manfred Eicher, span over a decade of Moore’s development as a composer, from Stories for Ocean Shells, written in 2000 (in response to a commission from the Australian Society for the Contemporary Arts) to the 16-minute Canon, for four pianos, which was completed shortly before the recording session in Lugano’s Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera. Moore describes Canon as an exploration of the character of cadences: “Different progressions of chords have different emotional impacts … It’s about the question of tempo and perceiving time and the way a performer translates and interprets the structuring of time over the piece.”
Four pieces here, “Stories for Ocean Shells”, “Spin Bird” (2008), “Zomer” (2006) and “Joy” (2003) are for solo piano, with “Spin Bird” (2008) appearing in two variations, to open and close the programme. “The Body Is An Ear” (2010), for two pianos, is inspired by the writings of Sufi philosopher (and singer and vina player) Hazrat Inyat Khan. “Sensitive Spot” (2006), for multiple pianos, was written for Dutch new music group Ensemble Modelo 62. In the present version, Lankhoorn has recorded the piece over and over, and the recordings have been layered to produce “a rippling pointillist sound world” as George Miller notes. The aim is to “create ‘a human sense of delays’ in contrast to mathematically precise electronic reverb … Human tempo is always changing and the resultant layered recording produces shimmering sheets of sound that vibrates with the iridescence of hummingbird wings.”
Kate Mooore’s music has been performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Sydney Opera House, as well as at festivals including the Bang on a Can Marathon, ISCM World Music Days, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, November Music, Sonic Festival NY, MATA Festival, and the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival. Moore has been the recipient of awards and prizes include the Apeldoorn Young Composers Award 2003, Carlsbad Festival Composer Prize 2010, De Komeet Culture Prize 2010, Hague Top Talent 2012.
Saskia Lankhoorn is active in the contemporary music world as soloist and chamber musician, performing with the Asko-Schönberg Ensemble, Electra, Ensemble Klang and other groups. With Ensemble Klang she has appeared in festivals including the Huddersfield Festival, Cultural Olympiad UK 2012, and the Sonic Festival, New York City. She has given solo concerts with works by Horațiu Rădulescu, Noriko Koide, Silvia Borzelli, Peter Adriaansz, Pete Harden and Yannis Kyriakides. Lankhoorn was a first-prize winner at the Royal Prinses Christina Concours in 1998 and a chamber music finalist at the Concertgebouw’s 58th Vriendenkrans Competition in 2007, where she received both the press prize and the public’s award.