Michael Finnissy – Normal Deviates (2017)

Michael FinnissyNormal Deviates (2017)

Premiered as part of our Wigmore Hall debut performance for the Tillett Trust on the 13th February 2017, and reviewed in the Sunday Times as ‘divine chit-chat’.

Michael’s programme note:

In the salacious gossip-mongering culture of the UK, this title seems designed to be misconstrued. “Normal deviates” is fairly common usage in Mathematics & Statistics, where predictable (typical or expected) discrepancies in projected progressions or sequences occur: fault-lines that might be easily anticipated in the ‘perfect’ world of numbers – particularly applicable to (supposedly) Random numbers.

In altering, dislocating, dismembering then overlaying, re-assembling and transposing, I am alluding to the 600 year old tradition of writing, or improvising ‘Variations’. In this case on (or of) vihuela and lute Fantasias by Alonso Mudarra and Robert Dowland. As you ought to expect, as ’normal’, any (imaginative) composer is going to ‘deviate’ from their musical sources when they create variations and transcriptions: Beethoven transforming Händel or Diabelli, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Lutosławski enlarging on Paganini, and so on. The degree of variation (or deviation) may also be considered, but subjectively, as more or less ‘normal’ according to taste and experience.