John Oliver, composer

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PEP Vol.1 CD review - "wonderfully creative music"

PEPcd1

In a recent Fanfare magazine review, Lynn Bayley writes about my piece Eternity Gaze:

This is wonderfully creative music, for me the centerpiece of the entire CD. Oliver evidently has a fine ear for color, and is thus able to create an interesting interaction of the three instruments here.

Here is the complete excerpt. You can buy or subscribe to Fanfare Magazine here.

You can learn more and buy the CD
here.

REVIEW: Fanfare Magazine, Lynn Bayley
 
PEP: PIANO & EHRU PROJECT, Vol. 1  —  Corey Hamm (pn); Nicole Ge Li (erhu); John Oliver (gtr)1  —  REDSHIFT TK437 (75:46)
 
GODIN a long the riverrun. TSE Blues ‘n’ Grooves. TOP Lamentation. MILLER Captive. MORLOCK Verdigris.OLIVER 1Eternity Gaze. PARK Moonless Night. RADFORD All Over the Map. CHEN Twilight.ARMANINI Goldfish

From the lyrical effusion of Morlock we move on to the more percussive style of John Oliver in his four-part suite Eternity Gaze (the various sections are titled Looking Outward Together, Forgetting Time, In a Mirror, and Here, Now). In his hands the erhu returns to its Theremin-like qualities while the pianist is required to bang the piano lid, pluck the strings, and also hold down the strings with his fingers while the other hand plays the keyboard. This gives the Western piano a very Eastern sound and creates a very picturesque quality, which is extremely hard to do in music. I was quite taken with this suite and think you will be, too; it is just tonal enough to appeal to those listeners who like such things. In this piece, too, an electric guitar is added (played by the composer), and the music develops in one place in the style of old-fashioned R&B-style rock music, in another having the guitar play almost in the style of a Chinese instrument to complement the erhu. This is wonderfully creative music, for me the centerpiece of the entire CD. Oliver evidently has a fine ear for color, and is thus able to create an interesting interaction of the three instruments here. The last piece (Here, Now) sets up a repeated syncopated piano figure in D minor which acts almost like a perpetuum mobile for that instrument, yet which changes both key and rhythmic emphasis as the work progresses. Towards the end, both the erhu and the piano’s right hand move towards a stubbornly lyrical theme, trying to exorcise the left-hand rhythmic figure and eventually succeeding as a more conventional waltz rhythm permeates the last section—but with a twist when the guitar re-enters, then slowing down the tempo and picking it up again. The guitar now strums loudly in the foreground as we ride off into the (Canadian) sunset.