Piano Improvisations Ola Gjeilo
- 1Ubi Caritas04:16
- 2Tota Pulchra Es03:50
- 3Prelude (3 pianos)04:54
- 6Seven Eight (3 pianos)01:58
- 7Dark Blue03:07
- 8Santa Monica02:47
- 9Nebraska (2 pianos)03:34
- 10The Lake04:37
- 11Cloudless (3 pianos)03:05
- 12Light Blue04:35
- 13The Great Plains03:16
- 14Bach Fantasy02:28
- 15The Biltmore Shrine03:09
- 16Little Rock07:09
- 18Heart to Heart01:51
Info for Piano Improvisations
While my first piano album on the 2L record label, Stone Rose (2007), was all pre-composed or outlined, I wanted this 2012 sequel to be completely spontaneous.
Although many of the pieces on this album are free improvisations recorded in one take, the first three tracks are fantasies around three of my own choral works; Ubi Caritas, Tota Pulchra Es and Prelude. Recordings of the original choral versions can be found on Phoenix Chorale's 2012 album, Northern Lights (Chandos Records).
Producer Morten Lindberg suggested recording a few tracks where I would play layers of two or three pianos, which I thought was a great way to really exploit the surround sound potential on a solo album. We moved the piano between each take, eventually constituting a triangle, and the listener is sitting in the middle in a surround system setup.
“While my first piano album Stone Rose was all pre-composed or outlined, I wanted this sequel to be completely spontaneous. As a pianist, free improvisation is where my heart is.” - Ola Gjeilo, 2012.
Evocative, lyrical music for 1, 2 & 3 pianos, improvised and performed by Ola Gjeilo, including fantasies around three of his choral works; Ubi Caritas, Tota Pulchra Es and Prelude.
Ola Gjeilo, piano
Recording Producer and Balance Engineer: Morten Lindberg
Recording Technician: Beatrice Johannessen
Piano Technician: Thron Irby, Steinway D-model
Editing: Jørn Simenstad
Mix and Mastering: Morten Lindberg
Executive Producers: Jørn Simenstad and Morten Lindberg
While my first piano album on the 2L record label, Stone Rose (2007) was all pre-composed or outlined, I wanted this 2012 sequel to be completely spontaneous. As a pianist, improvisation is where my heart is.
Some of the tracks, such as Meribel, Susanne, Dark Blue, Santa Monica, The Lake, Light Blue, The Great Plains, The Biltmore Shrine, Little Rock, Chorale, and Heart To Heart were completely free improvisations recorded in one take. Bach Fantasy was also an improvisation, but in this case it had an obvious link to a very well-known piece by J.S. Bach, even though I hadn’t planned it that way beforehand.
Other tracks (mainly the pieces involving two or three pianos) including Seven Eight, Nebraska, and Cloudless, were based on earlier ideas or themes of mine. I would semi-improvise the first and primary piano track around those ideas, and then improvise the second and third takes on top of that, overdubbing myself while hearing the other layer(s) in headphones.
The first three tracks on the album are improvisations over three of my own choral works; Ubi Caritas, Tota Pulchra Es and Prelude. Recordings of the original choral versions can be found on Phoenix Chorale’s 2012 album, Northern Lights (Chandos Records).
Even though some of the tracks were based on — and were improvisations around — existing ideas or pieces of mine, the overarching idea for these sessions was that I wanted everything to be spontaneous. Meaning, I had no idea what I was going to play before sitting down on the piano bench, ready to record. It was such a refreshing and liberating feeling to not know what was going to happen until a split second before I played it.
The past few years I’ve started taking this approach to the stage as well, and I love doing hour-long recitals that are fully improvised, either solo or with another player. But I like to improvise in a way that, hopefully, makes it sound like a through-composed work, with a real sense of form and an arc.
I’ve also started improvising a lot with ensembles (especially choirs), where they perform my works as written and I create a piano part in the moment, usually including an introduction and interludes in between the main sections of the works. There are a couple of videos on YouTube from 2011 that are examples of this type of improvisation with performances of my Ubi Caritas and Northern Lights featuring the CWU Chamber Choir.
I continue to be really excited about my evolving artistic collaboration with 2L and producer Morten Lindberg, who also produced my first piano album, Stone Rose. Morten suggested recording a few tracks where I played layers of two or three pianos, which I thought was a great way to really exploit the surround sound potential on a solo album. We moved the piano between each take, eventually constituting a triangle, and the listener is sitting in the middle in a surround system setup. This inspired me to think even more orchestrally while playing all the voices myself, multilayeredness is something I always strive for in music.
2L’s expertise in surround and high definition sound is almost unparalleled, I think, which is why they continue to be nominated for “Best Surround Sound” at the Grammy® Awards (USA) nearly every year. 2L also have access to some amazing pianos, including the Steinway Model D that I played on this recording — it’s the best grand piano I have ever experienced. Just incredible.
(pronounced Yay-lo) was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City, from which he graduated with a Master’s Degree in ’06, after two years at the Royal College of Music in London. Ola’s published concert works are performed all over the world, and his debut recording as a pianist-composer, the lyrical cross- over album Stone Rose, was released to critical acclaim in 2007 on the 2L label. Many of Ola’s choral works are featured on Phoenix Chorale/Charles Bruffy’s CD on the Chandos label, Northern Lights (2012), which is devoted entirely to his music for choir. He especially enjoys writing music for choir, orchestra/symphonic winds, and the piano, while as a pianist, his main passion is impro- visation, either solo or over his own ensemble works. Presently a full-time composer based in the United States, Ola is also very interested in film, and his music draws a lot of inspiration from movies and cinematic music.