Why "Faust" you may ask?
The Faust story is so fascinatingly embedded in the roots of human philosophy and morality.
It is so relatable whether you realise it or not,
“I know this is bad, but I’m still gonna do it and pay the price!”
Mortality has become such a global theme of 2020
through the disruption of norms and questioning
of one’s reality and existence.
Dr Faust’s fantastic tale makes us share in the same essence:
human meaning, temptation, conflicting dualities of the mind
and facing the unknown.
Faust: a Mortal’s Tale draws its inspiration from the silent film ‘Faust’ (Murnau, 1926)
and is a personal musical reflection on the following story:
“The old Dr Faust ponders over his life (Rachmaninov, Prelude Op. 32 No. 12) and begins a journey into the unknown (Catoire, Quatre Morceaux). As he walks the earth (Say, Black Earth), he finds himself in deep contemplation (Debussy, Claire de Lune). In a furious rage, he conjures Mephistopheles who grants him all earthly pleasures in exchange for his soul (Liszt, Mephisto Waltz). He seduces the beautiful Spanish princess (Granados, Oriental) but is tricked into eternal damnation (De Falla, Ritual Fire Dance) where only through redemption and death (Rachmaninov, Etude Op 39, Nr 2 "Dies Irae"), is he granted an ascent into the heavens (Led Zeppelin, Stairways).”
It’s become a joyful habit of mine to tamper with the written score, to not take the notes too seriously, but in a thoughtful way. I’m sure that Bach, Beethoven and Liszt often (not all the time!) wrote in a way, either in skeletal form, or deliberately mundane and repetitious, or alluding to improvisation, with the expectation for performers to try new things, as if to create a secret portal. Depending on the context, it’s as though many scores were designed for performers to think outside the box, to give an individual stamp of expression or to even a push the performer into the direction of composition and improvisation. This was, after all, so common of performers a few hundred years ago, though considered sacrilegious by many hardened academics of today.
Chris Groenhout ©
I chose the Australian-made ‘Big Beleura’ piano as the instrument for this recording because it offers expressive qualities different to conventional 88 key grand pianos. It has 108 keys, making it the world’s first 9-octave piano, with the keyboard expanding in both directions, down to a lower C, (an extra 9 keys) and up to a higher B (an extra 11). I’ve reimagined each piece specifically for this instrument and have loved making use of its huge range, four pedals and unique sonority.
These new ideas, Dr Faust’s tale, the ‘Big Beleura’ piano and new explorations
have driven my creative direction for some time,
so I hope you enjoy this album..
like exotic fruits that have never before been tasted.
Do you dare to try one?