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Sono Luminus is excited to present Snapshots, a stunning collection of short yet brilliant piano works by composers Peter Knell and Sergei Prokofiev, all expertly executed by celebrated pianist Markus Pawlik.
While composers had written short keyboard pieces for centuries, Ludwig van Beethoven was the first great composer to publish collections of shorter pieces as an organized entity, collections that he called “bagatelles.” Following Beethoven’s precedent, Romantics such as Schubert, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and, especially, Schumann, cultivated the fashionable and lucrative genre of the “character piece.”
This tradition continued into the twentieth century with such works as Sergei Prokofiev’s Mimolyotnosti, Op. 22, and the genre is alive and well in our time, as is evinced by Peter Knell’s Snapshots. Peter Knell’s series of twenty-two short pieces for piano that comprise Snapshots could only have been composed by an American in the first decades of the twenty-first century. The title of these concise vignettes, which, when played altogether last about twenty-four minutes, is quintessentially American. A “snapshot,” after all, is a photograph that is “shot” quickly and spontaneously—a record of a fugitive vision frozen and preserved on film for the family album. For Americans of a certain age, the word “snapshot” conjures up the inexpensive Brownie box camera, introduced by the Eastman Kodak Company in order to put photography within the reach of unpretentious amateurs.
Peter Knell (b. 1970) has received numerous awards in national and international competitions, including First Prizes in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s 10th New Music Festival International Composers Competition, the Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival/Louisville Orchestra Prize, and the Omaha Symphony Guild International New Music Competition, as well as Second Prizes in the Fourth International Witold Lutoslawski Composers Competition, the First International Composers’ Competition “In Memoriam Zoltán Kodály”, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers Competition.
Markus Pawlik has been characterized as one of those rare pianists who combine sensitivity and expressiveness together with a technique that evinces phenomenal virtuosity. Born in Bremen in 1966, he began to concertize at the age of seven and he won both the German National Young Musician’s Competition and the Hamburg Steinway Competition three times each. In 2003, Pawlik performed the world première of a concerto written especially for him by Japanese composer Ichiro Nodaira: this performance occurred in Berkeley conducted by Kent Nagano. In 2006, Pawlik played the Japanese première of this concerto at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Other performances include works of both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries such as Berg’s Kammerkonzert, as well as scores by Britten, Takemitsu, Dimov, Knell, and numerous others.
Peter Knell: Snapshots
I. Delicate, resonant
II. Funky, brutal
III. Chant-like, slowly
XII. Freely, sparce
XIV. Deadpan, mechanical
XVI. Medium groove
XVIII. Dreamlike, freely
Sergey Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Op. 22
V. Molto giocoso
VI. Con eleganza
IX. Allegretto tranquillo
XI. Con vivacita
XII. Assai moderato
XVIII. Con una dolce lentezza
XIX. Presto agitatissimo e molto accentuato
XX. Lento irrealmente
Peter Knell: Piano Sonata No. 1
I. Con brio
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.