Michael Finnissy's 'The History of Photography in Sound' was first performed in 2001 and the recording here dates from between 2004 and 2006. It is a five and a half hour solo piano work in eleven movements. Some of the movements (North American Spirituals, Alkan-Paganini, Etched Bright with Sunlight) have been recorded before by Marilyn Nonken and Nicolas Hodges. Here Ian Pace plays all eleven of them. This allows the listener to hear the degree of self reference and contrast within the work.
The movements are:
1) le demon de l'analogie 2) le reveil de l'intraitable realite 3) North American Spirituals 4)My parents' generation thought War meant something 5)Alkan-Paganini 6)Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets 7)Edweard Muybridge-Edvard Munch 8)Kapitalistisch Realisme (met Sizilianische Mannerakte en Bachsche Nachdictungen) 9)Wachtend op de volgende uitbarsting van repressie en censuur [Waiting for the next wave of repression and censorship] 10)Unsere Afrikareise [Our African Journey] 11)Etched bright with sunlight
HOPIS is a wide-ranging work that takes in not only the History of Photography but poetry, politics, sexuality, colonialism, autobiography, musical history. The music is equally wide-ranging: It may help to listen to some of his earlier work as a guide to what to expect: English Country Tunes and the Fourth Piano Concerto, for example.
The music is difficult to characterize but varies from extremes of volume and violence to terse episodes with pauses or Bach inspired orderliness or lyricism. It is more absorbing the longer you listen to it. The contrasting movements contain contrasts within themselves. It is a challenging but rewarding listen and can be bitten off a movement at a time or as one big three or four part work.
Ian Pace has also produced a 98 page booklet of notes on the work which is extremely helpful in explaining the origin and influences upon the work.
On ukDOTcamelcamelcamelDOTcom you can check that the lowest was 21.65 on 3rd party new and 22.80 on amazon proper. Since then the album has increased in monetary value and one day in future it will become sold out and a collector's item rarity. And I am telling ya, the piano work is a rarity! Ian Pace performance and the recorded engineered sound are both impeccable. I found the massive liner notes (291 pages in PDF!!!!!) easy enough to follow, they make logical sense and explain what they try to explain wonderfully, great writing job by an utmost dedicated scholar. It is a shame though that the piece was deleted from the Finnissy entries in Hinson Guide Fourth Edition 2013. This is probably the most important piano recording release in the 2nd decade of the 21st century. Finnissy, Pace, City, Metier, hats off forever! :) The music itself, the aural sound experience, well.. i'll get back to you on that. I am still listening to Disc B. Disc A was easy to understand, not too involved piano writing. So far enjoyable music, much more enjoyable than Gershwin Arrangements.