Sheila Arnold: Meditative Peace on Disc

December 16, 2018

Pianist Sheila Arnold does not only feel at home on the fortepiano, but also on the modern, concert grand piano. Her last CD, Écoutez!, is all about the music of modernity - with works by Debussy, Cage and Takemitsu. In this interview with Tabea Eppelein, Sheila Arnold explains why this CD is something very personal, and offers new listening experiences.

Your CD is called Écoutez!, or Listen! in English. When one hears the sounds on the disc, in fact one can’t do anything but listen. The music is unbelievably varied: energetic and dreamy by turns, and always gripping. How do Debussy, Cage and Takemitsu do this? And how do you manage it yourself, in your interpretations?
The masters achieve it through the art of the unexpected. This may be through their treatment of the instruments themselves, the harmony, the individual notes, or the rhythm, while also maintaining a form. None of the three composers have anything to do with disorganised chaos. There is the A-B-A form with a closing sequence (often seen in Debussy’s music), or John Cage’s short, one-movement sonata form in two parts, which is reminiscent of Domenico Scarlatti. There is also an associative element, which heightens the listener’s awareness. There is a sense of the familiar, a chance to remember, alongside a sense of surprise, and curiosity, about the unexpected. For my part, I hope that my listeners will follow me with interest on my own “journey” through the pieces. I am happy if, by doing this, the horizons of their experience expand a little.

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