UK-based composer Josh Winiberg’s album Change was released back in 2018, delivering ten tracks of contemporary music in the vein of the hugely popular Ludovico Einaudi, who Winiberg respects and acknowledges as an important influence.
Winiberg’s ten compositions were originally recorded with piano, string quintet, guitars and electronics. It is a measure of the popularity of the recording and the quality of its music that a solo transcription for piano has now been published by Editions Musica Ferrum, the subject of this review.
The Origins of Change
Explaining the genesis of these compositions, Winiberg tells us that three of the pieces were originally composed for the soundtrack to a short film, Woman in Fragments:
“The film’s story is about a talented dancer who finally lands a leading role before suddenly being confronted with the choice between pursuing her dreams and caring for her ill mother…
While writing the soundtrack, I found my own life in a state of flux and uncertainty, facing difficult decisions about the way forward and paralysed by indecision. Throughout this period, I continued to explore the narrative themes that ran throughout Woman in Fragments, and reflected on my own experiences and mindset, eventually leading to this album.”
There are several clues to this narrative in the titles of the ten pieces:
- The Dancer
- Amor Fati
- One Last Time
The Music of Change
Winiberg’s music is composed in an accessible style that will appeal to a large audience, and you can listen to the ten tracks of the original album via his YouTube channel here:
The influence of Einaudi is certainly striking, but it would be lazy to simply rely on this as a point of reference. Winiberg’s own musical character certainly shines through these compositions, and personally I feel that Change has a more positive, upbeat quality than much of the Einaudi’s work.
Winiberg’s pieces require an advanced piano technique. The solo transcriptions are notated with a high level of rhythmic precision, with more detail than Einaudi’s, and it is important to understand the commercial sensibilities that underpin Winiberg’s music: many of these scores look dense and difficult on the page, but actually the composer is simply notating the natural undulations of his own playing style.
Notwithstanding their contemporary aesthetic and precise notation, the pieces can also be imbued with considerable Romanticism. I would recommend this collection to players at advanced level, in traditional terms perhaps around Grade 8, and who are able to interpret the music with maturity. An ability to pick up music by ear, listening to the original recordings, will likely prove a distinct advantage too.
The Publication of Change
With any score coming from Editions Musica Ferrum I hardly need restate the quality of this publisher’s boutique output.
The music book for Change is similar to that of Ben Crosland’s outstanding Songs from Rainbow Hill, reviewed here, sporting cover artwork that relates to that of the vibe of the recording, and quality white paper within.
There is a short written introduction including brief performance suggestions from the composer, and an invitation to upload your own performances with a hashtag.
The pieces themselves range in length from three to eight pages, and are as cleanly, spaciously presented as we have consistently come to expect from Musica Ferrum. Fingering and pedalling suggestions are not included.
Time for Change?
It is fair to say that while many pianists revel in the musical style popularised by Einaudi, others find it an anathema; they are unlikely to warm to Winiberg’s music for the same reasons.
But for those who enjoy this contemporary musical genre and are seeking fresh discoveries with added technical challenge, this intelligent and superbly crafted collection can be warmly recommended, and without any reservation.
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