Out of My Hands: A new album from pianist Christopher O'Riley
“As a huge fan of O'Riley's work with the Radiohead and Nick Drake catalogs, I am very impressed and honored that he chose to interpret this song.” - Michael Stipe, R.E.M.
Critically acclaimed concert pianist Christopher O'Riley releases Out of My Hands, a new album of his trademark piano interpretations of contemporary repertoire featuring compositions by Nirvana, REM, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Tori Amos, The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, and Portishead, among others. These are based on his own groundbreaking transcriptions of the songs in question, following on the heels of his past readings of the finest in pop repertoire from Radiohead, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. Along with his powerful interpretations of the Classical piano repertoire, these new performances exhibit how pianist Christopher O'Riley continues to stretch and redefine the possibilities of Classical music in our time.
Out of My Hands features the single “Heart Shaped Box,” now available on iTunes, originally composed by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. The recording techniques employed exemplify Christopher O’Riley’s unique straddling of the Classical and rock music worlds: O’Riley performed on a Hamburg Steinway Model D piano with five microphones placed inside, as well as a 360 degree surround system known as the "Death Star," comprising seven additional microphones. This dual system delivers the intensity and rich harmonic layering of O’Riley's piano arrangements, inspired by the sound of guitars, basses and drums, and captures the concert hall acoustic.
Also included on the new album are “Mother” by Tori Amos; Elliot Smith’s “New Disaster;” Portishead’s “The Rip;” “Us and Them” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; “Woman In Chains” by Tears for Fears; “Blue Bell Knoll” by the Cocteau Twins; “World Leader Pretend” from R.E.M.; “Asleep” by The Smiths; Reid Anderson’s “Lost of Love” and returning to Radiohead, from In Rainbows, “All I Need” and “Video Tape.” In his fascinating booklet notes, Christopher O’Riley describes the songs through a Classical lens, noting the Debussian fifths in “All I Need,” the Glassian arpeggiations on “Blue Bell Knoll,” the Schubertian focus on “Asleep” and the operatic duet in “Woman in Chains,” along with making musical comparisons to Sibelius, Chopin, Messiaen and Scriabin – all providing enlightening insight into his inimitable craft.
Christopher O’Riley’s first recording of Radiohead transcriptions, True Love Waits (Sony/Odyssey), was as critically acclaimed as it was commercially successful, sitting at the top of Billboard’s Classical chart for months. Rolling Stone gave the album four stars, calling the music “melodically vivid yet also noisily orchestral, revoicing Radiohead’s distortions, threats, loveliness and dismay … with unblinking virtuosity.” Hold Me to This: Christopher O'Riley Plays the Music of Radiohead, released on harmonia mundi’s World Village imprint, followed suit: “The songs are recognizable as Radiohead's, but their materials are deconstructed, tweaked, expanded into new time frames, new structures, new expressive possibilities,” said The Chicago Tribune. Home to Oblivion; An Elliott Smith Tribute (World Village), tackled the deeply emotional and complex work from the troubled singer/songwriter who died prematurely in 2003 and similarly drew critical praise. O’Riley’s fourth set of transcriptions from the contemporary popular songbook was Second Grace – The Music Of Nick Drake,repertoire from the late enigmatic British guitar wizard and songwriter, taken from Drake’s formally unreleased home recordings as well as his official studio output.
One of the most important and versatile pianists performing today, Christopher O’Riley’s unique career encompasses performances of a broad repertoire, ranging from the music of the Renaissance and Baroque to premiering works by today’s leading composers such as Richard Danielpour and Aaron Jay Kernis, and to such non-classical genres as the tango. As a classical pianist, O’Riley has performed with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra and the symphonies of Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Baltimore with conductors including Marin Alsop, David Zinman, Leonard Slatkin, John Williams, Neeme Järvi, Bobby McFerrin and Hans Graf, among many others. His classical recordings, including works by Scriabin, Stravinsky, Busoni, Ravel, Beethoven and John Adams can be found on the Image, Nonesuch, and RCA labels. Recently, O’Riley made his conducting debut with the Columbus Symphony, also performing Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto with the orchestra. O’Riley has performed his acclaimed transcriptions at major venues around the world, from Istanbul to London and from Sicily to Sydney. Recent performances have incorporated live video art, in collaboration with award-winning artists Steven Byram (who also creates all O’Riley’s album artwork and illustrated his book of transcriptions, True Love Waits: Radiohead Reimagined For The Piano) and Jonathan Rosen. As host of the most popular classical music radio show on the air today, National Public Radio's top-rated From The Top, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season, Christopher O'Riley works and performs with the next generation of brilliant young musicians. Two years ago, PBS launched the weekly television series From The Top from Carnegie Hall, featuring O’Riley as host. New episodes will be filmed in Spring 2010.