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Australian piano music by Gifford, Gould, Ford, Yu and Michael Kieran Harvey. Elektra is an experiment in extending acoustic piano sound via computer, and was a collaboration with sound engineer Michael Hewes, who surfed the piano resonances in real time.

This work, our first collaboration, grew out of my interest in dealing with the question of computer versus human performance - since Asimov's vision of the revolution in robotics (and his memorable description of a future synthesised music recital in the Foundation series) and the preference of composers like Zappa for computers over live musicians - and led me to wonder what were the compelling aspects of the live performance versus the perfect execution achievable on the new computer instruments.

This conundrum has increased and will continue to do so with the prosthetic integration of robotics with biology (and humans). Indeed it is increasingly impossible to avoid chemical intervention within the human lifecycle, so enhancement is now a human evolutionary reality.

I had spent some time exploring the intersection between what a composer hears, then realises on the computer, and then what is humanly possible in live performance. Ives, Nancarrow, Ferneyhough, Stockhausen, Boulez and others had been pushing these boundaries well before the rise of the PC but the ease and complexity of computer-generated music for the piano now begs the question: what is the performer for? If the performer will only be able to execute the score with varying degrees of failure, what is the point in attempting it in the first place? Should the composer ignore his/her own creative desires and only write what is comfortable for the performer and audience?

It boils down to whether humans wish to listen to intelligent machines or other humans. The answer seems to be: it depends. The prosthetic integration of artificial intelligence with human intelligence is an increasing fact of life within art. One wonders though whether an intelligent machine would ever want to play or listen to music for its own satisfaction.

I came to realise that what I was looking for in live performance could be found in Australian improvising pianists like Grabowsky, Nock and Tony Gould. There is in Gould's music - an experimentation and absorption in the moment; naturally a refreshing spontaneity but also a humility that is totally unlike the more painful histrionics of his overseas colleagues. The sense of playful irony is clearly evident in the music of Ford and Yu, where ancient forms are reinvigorated with the energy of popular music. The dark aspect of human technological advancement through human slaughter is mourned in the Gifford work Menin Gate.

Each of the works on this CD I think strives to express the tension in music between formula and spontaneity.

— Michael Kieran Harvey


Michael Kieran Harvey

Australian pianist and composer, Dr Michael Kieran Harvey FAHA, is one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary piano music of his generation. A champion of Australian music and himself a composer, he regularly commissions new Australian music and has performed with Australia's leading contemporary music ensembles and orchestras.

Press quote

“The latest collaboration between Move Records and the indefatigable master-pianist has Harvey performing works by four substantial Australian composers, three of the pieces commissioned especially for his volcanic talent. Taking pride of place are Tony Gould's three-part The Crossing, packed with the jazz expert's angular lyricism, and Julian Yu's sonata of 2005. Harvey also presents his engrossing reading of Andrew Ford's Folly, given to deserved acclaim in August's Piano! festival at the National Academy of Music, and Helen Gifford's striking Menin Gate. The CD concludes with its title-work, a highly challenging piano-plus-computer composition by Harvey himself.”

— Clive O'Connell, The Age

Audio previews

Track Listing

    The Crossing Tony Gould

  1. first movement
  2. second movement
  3. third movement
  4. Menin Gate Helen Gifford
  5. Folly Andrew Ford
  6. Sonata for Piano Julian Yu
  7. Elektra Michael Kieran Harvey



Andrew Ford

Andrew Ford is a composer, writer and broadcaster, and has won awards in all three capacities, including the 2004 Paul Lowin Prize for his song cycle Learning to Howl and in 2010 a Green Room Award for his opera Rembrandt's Wife.

Helen Gifford

Like Sculthorpe and Grainger before her, Australian composer Helen Gifford has found inspiration in the gamelan and Balinese music.

Julian Yu

The multi-award winning Australian composer Julian Yu employs a musical language imbued with a high degree of elegance and expressiveness, which are both enhanced by an impeccable craft and special attention to detail.

Tony Gould

Pianist and composer Tony Gould is one of Australia’s most respected musicians. His career has embraced many styles of music, not least jazz and other improvisatory musics in addition to traditional and contemporary classical musics. He gives many concerts each year and for 50 years he has been involved in an extraordinary number of recording projects both as pianist and composer and has been at the forefront of music education in Australia via various tertiary institutions in Melbourne and throughout Australia.

Where to buy

Elektra is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Spotify and Apple Music.

Elektra is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

Recorded at the Move Records Studio, Melbourne Australia.

List price
$25.00 AUD
Benjamin Thomas
Martin Wright
Michael Hewes
Vaughan McAlley
Vaughan McAlley
Martin Wright
Move Records Studio
North Melbourne Elm Street Hall
Release date
© 2009 Move Records
℗ 2009 Move Records
Australian, Classical, Keyboard
Catalogue number
MD 3329
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574332926