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Les Noces and Other Pianola Music

Our first CD, Aeolia 1001, features a diverse collection of music, all specially arranged for the pianola, and performed by Rex Lawson, a professional pianolist, and one of the founders of the Pianola Institute. The programme of the CD lasts for just over 71 minutes.

CD Contents:

1Igor Stravinsky:Les Noces
2Witold Lutosławski:Wariacje na temat Paganiniego
3Sergei Rachmaninov:Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
4George Frideric Handel:Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
5Charles-Marie Widor:Toccata from Organ Symphony no. 5
Sir Arthur Sullivan/
  Sir Charles Mackerras:Pineapple Poll
7Belaye's Solo

Igor Stravinsky arranged many of his ballet scores especially for the Pleyela player-piano, with the help of Jacques Larmanjat, head of music rolls for Pleyel in Paris. This is the world premiere recording of the Pleyela version of Stravinsky's dance work, Les Noces.

The other works on the CD range from the drama of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, to the effervescence of Sir Charles Mackerras' ballet, Pineapple Poll. They were all especially arranged for this recording by Rex Lawson, and show off the pianola's almost limitless range, unfettered by the span of human hands.

mp3 HANDEL: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.  [3.4 Mb]
Performed by Rex Lawson - April 1998, Nottingham.

This roll was performed on an Aeolian 65/88-note Pianola, attached to a Steinway concert grand, at Nottingham University in April 1998. The musical arrangement and the roll are the copyright of Rex Lawson, 1995, and the audio recording is the copyright of the Pianola Institute, 1998.

To purchase this CD, visit the Pianola Institute Shop

This CD is also available on the Other Minds label

The music is identical to Aeolia 1001 - scroll up the page for more details.

To purchase this CD, visit the Pianola Institute Shop

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Aeolia 1001 - Press Review

Reviewing Lawson's CD for Gramophone Magazine, Lionel Salter wrote:

"...disregard everything you've heard in recent years - pro and contra - about reproducing pianos: this is something quite different - not ready-made performances by an identified artist, but rolls for pianolas (i.e. a foot-pedalled player-piano) directly transcribed from the scores and interpreted by a virtuoso. And interpretation is the right word, for every nuance of pace and dynamics, every contrast of internal levels, every emphasis or agogic accent, every staccato articulation has to be supplied by the hands and feet of the player, who obviously needs to be a first-class musician with a detailed understanding of all his scores.
Rex Lawson is an artist of this kind, who has demonstrated his skills in various parts of the world and who, in addition, has himself cut most of the rolls used for the present CD. That is an art in itself, as is shown by his cunning addition of upper-harmonics mixtures that produce a different timbre, which he uses to highlight passages in, for example The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. It is noticeable that the blandest sound on this disc appears, perversely enough, in Les Noces, the one roll not cut by Rex Lawson. But this is historically of great interest, since this was one of Stravinsky's original options for the scoring of that seminal work (documented by the manuscript held in New York), though there were some errors of transcription that will engage the bloodhound instincts of Stravinsky experts. The greatest fun on this disc is provided by sparklingly buoyant performances of movements from Pineapple Poll, which also contains some delicate pianissimos, of which the recording of the ingenious and crystal-clear version of the Lutoslawski variations might have captured more. But the prize here must go to the Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody, which is an absolute knockout - a performance you really must hear!"

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