I primarily work out all my compositions in full on the piano first including all my “intended orchestral works.” Those that go on to become a finished orchestral work are worked on by my orchestration colleague Mark J Saliba. I often do up rough orchestrations that he works from as well as the piano reduction, however in some cases he works exclusively on recreating the music from my piano reductions. On this particular solo piano album is the original piano reductions of Symphonic Poems Movements In The Night and Echoes From A Haunted Past. Both these works came out on my orchestral album MY SYMPHONIC POEMS. I wanted to put out the original piano reductions as well. Perhaps if anyone is interested it will give some insights as to my “exact composing/recording process” to see how my ideas come out in both piano and orchestral form. With me, when a piece of music starts developing in my head I know almost immediately if it will be strictly a solo piano work or if the piano reduction will eventually become an orchestral work.
On my album DARK CLOUDS IN LIFE, there is my three-movement work for piano and orchestra, Natalie’s Suite, recorded by the Janáček Philharmonic and one of my past piano teachers Helen Kennedy. On this album is the original piano reduction for the 3rd movement “Moving Into The Light.” The other two movements are very long so I didn’t think would be appropriate to include those reductions here. The orchestral version of Echoes From A Haunted Past is also on this album and was inspired by my struggles over past problems in my life which I have moved on from. Those problems were dealt with also in Natalie’s Suite, and were things my daughter, Natalie, and I have both had to come to terms with.
As a retired chef, much of my “creative juices” and instincts are that of a chef. I don’t apologise for that. The most sacred rule a chef follows is how to creatively use “leftovers” so as to keep food costs down. Often when writing bigger projects as piano reductions there is a lot of material that unfortunately ends up “on the cutting room floor.” My chef’s instincts kick in and I’m compelled to use the “leftovers” in some other form. This applies to the new Symphonic Poem, Natalie’s Dilemma where I was able to use up my leftovers. Natalie’s Dilemma and Natalie’s Suite actually all evolved from the original piano piece from my Volume 2 piano works Natalie’s Theme. Now I can rest easy; all the relevant material has been used, (food costs in good shape). Eventually Natalie’s Dilemma will be orchestrated too. For anyone curious enough, my daughter Natalie was the inspiration behind all these works.
On my earlier piano albums is a piece titled The Pendulum which I’m quite fond of. So I decided to do another similar piece in the same style, hence The Pendulum No.2. This and all the other pieces in this offering are examples of pieces fully intended as piano solo pieces when first written.
Especially orchestrated versions of “Storm Clouds Approaching” and “Dance Of The Pagans” (Piano Vol.2) have been now performed at Carnegie Hall in February 2020, and were well received by the audience.
Any idea that I try to fit into a particular genre, composer style, form, period is purely by coincidence only. For those intent on minimalising my musical efforts, well all I can say is I’m quite happy that you go off and listen to something else that takes your fancy, that’s not a problem for me. I don’t conform or follow; it’s just not in my nature, I just follow my gut instincts.
— Mark John McEncroe