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O’Riley tunes in Radiohead

The Calgary Herald have an interview with Christopher O’Riley:

After performing recitals that feature his own Radiohead transcriptions, it’s not uncommon for American pianist Christopher O’Riley to be approached by pleasantly surprised listeners who ask, “Who is this Mr. Head — and where can we get his music?”

O’Riley admits that in a successful career as an adventurous concert and recording artist with a broad repertoire, “the whole transcribing and arranging thing is something I haven’t often done — except when I’ve felt the need.”

Since the release in 2003 of his first album (True Love Waits) based on the music of the British art-rock supergroup — the pianist was initially turned onto the music of Radiohead with the seminal 1997 CD, OK Computer — O’Riley’s need to create original piano versions of Radiohead songs has continued to grow.

A second “Radiohead re-imagined” CD is in the works and scheduled for release by Sony before Christmas. [thanks Alex]

The Calgary Herald have an interview with Christopher O’Riley:

After performing recitals that feature his own Radiohead transcriptions, it’s not uncommon for American pianist Christopher O’Riley to be approached by pleasantly surprised listeners who ask, “Who is this Mr. Head — and where can we get his music?”

O’Riley admits that in a successful career as an adventurous concert and recording artist with a broad repertoire, “the whole transcribing and arranging thing is something I haven’t often done — except when I’ve felt the need.”

Since the release in 2003 of his first album (True Love Waits) based on the music of the British art-rock supergroup — the pianist was initially turned onto the music of Radiohead with the seminal 1997 CD, OK Computer — O’Riley’s need to create original piano versions of Radiohead songs has continued to grow.

A second “Radiohead re-imagined” CD is in the works and scheduled for release by Sony before Christmas.

“It’s the same thing that attracts me to any repertoire — an arresting harmonic language and the way one deals with dramatic change within that language,” the pianist says.

“With Radiohead, you have more contrapuntal texture than in most rock music . . . each of the group’s (five) members contribute a certain element to each song, which creates the kind of texture that I find fascinating.”

In True Love Waits, the pianist weaves parts of songs from Radiohead recordings ranging from the band’s 1993 debut album Pablo Honey to their 2001 release, Amnesiac, into attractive, striking textures reminiscent of such favourite O’Riley composers as Scriabin, Debussy, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Ravel.

The pianist says he focuses on capturing the melodic line of a number — “I’m still pretty much slavishly devoted to the structure of the song,” — rather than on accentuating its pulse.

“The rhythm takes care of itself.”

O’Riley adds, “The more I concentrate on the line and the more I concentrate on the idiosyncrasies of the way Thom’s (Radiohead lead singer, Thom Yorke) voice actually is, the more successful and compelling it is.”

What does the band think of O’Riley’s versions of its songs?

“I met Thom Yorke and (bassist) Colin Greenwood backstage at Madison Square Garden last October. When I introduced myself to Colin, he told me they were so excited about what I was doing and wanted to know all about how the classical audiences were reacting to it.

“I handed a copy (of True Love Waits) to each of them and I know Thom looked at the set list on the back and was very surprised.

“Aside from having the extraordinary pleasure of just talking about music — with Thom Yorke, for God’s sake — the other thing that affected me was the fact that they’re gentlemen.” [thanks Alex]

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