Chris Newman is a contemporary composer, painter, author and performance artist living in Berlin. This is the first recording of Newman’s Piano Sonatas, a large and important aspect to his work. The renowned British piano virtuoso and composer Michael Finnissy performs the four sonatas here. Newman and Finnissy have been collaborators for over a quarter century, ensuring definitive performances. Composer supervised recordings. Liner notes by the composer and Michael Finnissy. From 1976-79, Chris Newman (b.1958 in London) studied music at King’s College London, receiving a Bachelor of Music. He moved to Cologne, Germany, in 1980 to study with Mauricio Kagel (New Music, Theatre/Video) at the Hochschule für Musik Köln. First public performance singing his own songs in 1982. He founded the chamber-punk rock band Janet Smith in 1983; and met Morton Feldman in 1984. First concerts and video showings: Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Theater am Turm, Frankfurt; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Cooper Union, New York. Started to paint in 1989. Since the beginning of the ’80s Newman’s compositions have been performed at concerts and festivals and recorded for radio productions (including orchestral commissions). He has published books of poetry and prose and issued a number of CDs. From 2001 to 2002 he was professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart.
Michael Finnissy has this to say about Chris Newman’s Sonatas: “Newman’s music takes on more of the world than music usually does. It’s also a lot more raw and loose-limbed than most new music is. An Art that seems lived at first-hand…an energy and intensity that is more than merely sound. Chris loves composers like Machaut, Schubert and Mussorgsky – and it’s plain enough to hear them in his music…the titles (Sonatas, and there are Symphonies and String Quartets too) suggest the presence of abstract thought, and Newman works caringly, adroitly and with precision and detail. These pieces do not happen by accident. There is a Newman sound to be ‘achieved’ on the piano: very evenly balanced voicing between the hands, somewhat hard-edged – on the whole reaching for each note as if it were virtually unpremeditated and unexpected.”