intensely pleasant music: 7 Airs & Fantasias and other piano music by John Pitts
ipm08 is a new album, released January 2009 on the cd.tp label, supported by the PRS Foundation for New Music / The Bliss Trust.
Featured on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction.
Buy the CD here from the Welcome Stranger Shop.
Download mp3s from
Individual mp3s or the whole album are currently available to download from amazon.co.uk, CDBaby, Lulu, Napster, Tradebit, Amazon.com (and French and German Amazon), CD Universe, rateyourmusic.com, Lala, Rhapsody, Last FM, Spotify and will shortly be available for download from iTunes, eMusic and others.
Listen free to selected tracks (complete) at www.myspace.com/intenselypleasantmusic
Download 17 mp3s - the whole album (16 tracks), plus the extra track ipm08a:
CHANGES is a minimalistic counting duel for 20 nifty fingers. It starts with the skeleton of a short repeated
phrase (in 14/8) which gradually fills out, and then moves through two enormously tricky sections in which the
two pianists have overlapping bars of different lengths (14 and 15 quavers). The duet finally builds to a dramatic
It’s three minutes of pile driving energy and brilliantly exciting. Jonathan Woolf
TOCCATA is a tour de force of driving energy, based on some wild jazz-infused harmony and a few simple cells of
melodic material which are explored and developed over a 9-minute period: technically demanding, mentally strenuous,
the music's energy is regulated until the final release in the last section, where all the thematic fragments converge,
and uninterrupted momentum is achieved. Two passages call for the use of the middle "sostenuto" pedal, which
sustains only selected notes and leaves all others dry.
...let’s just say that if Nancarrow’s player piano mated with Leo Ornstein, and Albert Ammons’s boogie-woogie piano was on an overdose of uppers it might sound a bit like this. Jonathan Woolf
The seven "intensely pleasant" AIRS & FANTASIAS for solo piano were written between 1992 and 2007. The airs are
essentially melody-dominated, and the fantasias are pieces in free form with a minimalistic use of repeated and
rotating patterns. The pieces are intended to be performed individually or in numbered pairs, or as a complete
collection. The subtitles are largely programmatic or self-explanatory, other than Air 3 (On an anagram) which
uses a melodic motif based on the letters of a name. The performance of Fantasia 2 on this disc uses optional
piano preparations (a small plastic ruler secured loosely in place over middle C to the E above, another ruler
wedged between 2 of the 3 F strings, and a bent metal ruler from the next C up over a further octave). A&Fs 6-7
inhabit a different harmonic world to the other pieces, using a collection of chord relationships called "Twisted
This is a colossal musical project that deserves admiration. John France
Melodic and engaging these are delightful pieces... Exciting stuff all round – vital, energising, but sensitive when need be. Toes – prepare to tap. Jonathan Woolf
...highly listenable stuff, very deftly in control of its chosen medium. A number of disparate influences are on display here, but welded into an overall idiom of considerable charm. Calum MacDonald, International Record Review
Are You Going?
Also recorded on 21/08/08 was a piece for 30 nifty fingers: ARE YOU GOING? by John Pitts. It is a fast, frenetic,
complex, polyphonic romp based on the folk-melody Scarborough Fair, pulled around in various time-warps.
Daniella Acker joined Steven Kings and John Pitts at the Steinway, and an mp3 of ipm08a is available
initially as a digital download from Lulu.
...a toccata boogie of unstoppable, unquenchable verve Jonathan Woolf
Download free excerpts here:
Extra track - AYG?
You can also see, play and print the sheet music for these and other pieces by John Pitts from scoreexchange.com
Changes for 20 nifty fingers
Toccata "Blue Frenzy"
Air 1 "Gentle Interweaving"
Fantasia 1 "Clockwork 5 4"
Air 2 "After Satie"
Fantasia 2 "On the Westminster Chimes"
Air 3 "On an anagram"
Fantasia 3 "Parallel Octaves"
Air 4 "Sarabande"
Fantasia 4 "Wind Chimes"
Air 5 "Calmly Contented"
Fantasia 5 "Bells in 9 8"
Air 6 "Modal Twist"
Fantasia 6 "Half-Second-Hand"
Air 7 "Cantabile Mist"
Fantasia 7 "All in a chord"
Are You Going? for 30 nifty fingers
Printed books of the whole collection of Airs & Fantasias, Changes and Are You Going?, Toccata, and other pieces are currently available to order from Lulu.
ISMN 979-0-9002157-1-0: Are You Going? & Changes - for twenty to thirty nifty fingers at a piano
ISMN 979-0-9002157-2-7: Toccata
ISMN 979-0-9002157-0-3: 7 Airs & Fantasias
STEVEN KINGS received his musical training at the King's School in Worcester, St John's College Cambridge and the
Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying the piano with Phyllis Palmer and Terence Beckles. He has performed
around the country as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician, beginning in the 1980s when he was a
founder-member of the New Chamber Players in London. In recent years he has formed a piano duo partnership with
Christopher Northam. Over the past few years his solo repertoire has included sonatas by Beethoven, Berg, and
Scriabin, as well as music by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Gershwin, Janacek, Ligeti, Liszt, Messiaen, Mussorgsky,
Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Scarlatti, Stravinsky and Webern. He has appeared as the piano soloist in
Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Lambert's Rio Grande, and in November 2006
was the soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasia with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Bristol's Colston Hall.
Steven lives in Bristol where he is in constant demand as an accompanist to choirs, vocal soloists, and
instrumentalists. He is currently the accompanist and assistant chorus master to the Bristol Choral Society
and the BBC National Chorus of Wales.
Since 2005 he has been Conductor of the Thornbury Choral Society, and
has conducted the Bristol Choral Society in performances at home and abroad.
He is also an active and
successful composer. In 1985 he won the Young Composers' Competition at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music
Festival with Snapshots for flute, saxophone, 'cello, bass and percussion. His red land spring was a prize
winner in the Tong International Piano Duet Competition in 2002 and received performances in London and Tokyo.
His output includes a number of piano works and several choral pieces. His haiku mass, for choir and brass, was
nominated for a British Composer Award in 2003, and Songs of Mary and Simeon (a setting of the Canticles) was
performed during the 2005 Three Choirs Festival in Worcester.
Enormous thanks go to The Bliss Trust/PRS Foundation, Jonathan Scott and the University of Bristol Music Department,
Nick Flower and Antony Pitts for their advice and technical help, Helen Kings for her silent and timely page-turning,
Professor Daniella Acker for her considerable counting skills, and my wife Vicky for her tremendous support.
JOHN PITTS has music degrees from Bristol and Manchester Universities, studying composition under Adrian Beaumont,
Geoff Poole, John Casken and John Pickard, also receiving tuition from Raymond Warren and Robert Saxton. In 2003
John won the
Philharmonia Orchestra Martin Musical Scholarship Fund Composition Prize, his Piano Quartet being
performed by the Fidelio Quartet in the final stage of the competition at the Royal Festival Hall. Typhus and Nuts
& Bolts, two of his chamber pieces, have been shortlisted by the Society for the Promotion of New Music. He writes
music for Christian worship, with two hymns on Naxos CDs recorded by his brother Antony Pitts and TONUS PEREGRINUS,
including one in Faber's The Naxos Book of Carols book. In 2006 Choir & Organ magazine commissioned I will raise
him up at the last day for their new music series. John has also written music for four plays and two short
operatic works - Crossed Wires (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 1997), and 3 Sliced Mice (commissioned by
Five Brothers Pasta Sauces). John has conducted four Bristol Savoy Operatic Society productions, arranging Pirates
of Penzance, Gondoliers and Iolanthe for small band. He is one of the founding members of the Severnside Composers
Alliance, and has had four pieces released on CDs on the Dunelm label. One reviewer wrote "This is lovely music to
listen to and shows a deep absorption of earlier styles but with a large degree of originality added for good
measure." Another wrote "I would have liked to hear more of this music." This CD is the result.