Mark recently premiered his latest compositions for piano and string quartet (the Potentino Concerto), with the live performance incorporating films by directors John Maybury and Sarah Killery that are themselves inspired by Springer’s music and the places in Rome and Tuscany that gave rise to it.
Click here to see a short film Directed by John Maybury that accompanies the Potentino Concerto. This film recently had its premier in Bristol at a concert by Mark Springer and the Lochrian Quartet
Mark Springer is a pianist and composer who first established his musical credentials while still in his teens with the innovative group Rip Rig + Panic. He was instrumental in forging their groundbreaking sound and was described by the NME at the time as having hornets in his head and a mercurial gift at his fingertips. Having released three albums with the group, he went on to sign a solo deal with Virgin and made a further trio of albums for the company, culminating in 1991’s acclaimed solo piano release ‘Menu’.
With the ‘Menu’ recording Springer used his piano techniques to make delicate nuances of impressionistic sounds and also incorporated dynamic improvisations to great effect. A quarter of a century on comes ‘Menu 2’, a release that contains all new material from the same sessions. Springer himself has previously stated that on each of the three days in the studio he felt he recorded enough good material to release an album and it has
therefore been a thrill to recently explore all that music and choose nine new pieces plus four alternative takes from the original release. In all, he has unearthed an hour of new music that is a dynamic mixture of composed and improvised pieces.
The second disc of this set contains a brand new work and what is surely the first ever piano quintet inspired by a vineyard. A natural follow-up to Springer’s 2015 release ‘The Watching Bird’, which was composed and premiered while he was staying at the Castello de Potentino in Tuscany, Italy, the five movements of ‘The Potentino Wine Piano Quintet’ describe the growth and life cycle of its magnificent vineyard.
Connecting the historical dots, Springer himself states that “since Rip Rig + Panic it struck me that there needed to be a much stronger structural and compositional thought process at work in order to take my music further. This is very much a part of both the original ‘Menu’ sessions and the new quintet.” As for the music itself, he asserts that “there are the obvious connections between my work and classical music but this misses some fundamental differences. The wine piano quintet is in many ways more like a modern jazz ensemble, but one which incorporates jazz voicings and chordal clusters in a different way to a regular jazz or classical quintet.” He continues: “I want to capture the spontaneous feeling of improvised music but turned into compositional ideas that develop free flowing improvisations, thereby making taught non-accidental statements. In other words, using the accidental to make deliberate bigger structures. This effect seems to relate very well to both ‘Menu 2’ and ‘The Potentino Wine Piano Quintet’.”
Mark Springer throughout his career has combined his musical experimentation alongside the visual. The impetus for creating both a musical and painterly sound- and land-scape has meant that he has worked fruitfully both as a soloist and collaboratively on art pieces like the opera installation made with the conceptual artist Damien Hirst for the Edinburgh Festival.
Springer's own visual artwork has most been informed by a move away from the city. He lives and works in the countryside and over the last few years he has explored and inhabited this landscape - physically and temporally, by walking through its woods, lanes and footpaths and artistically, by identifying the land and fusing his view of it in paint.
The same intensity of location is played out in Springer's relationship to his figurative paintings and 'Heads'; a series of self-portraits where the same structural identities, shapes and marks in paint create a human landscape - an anatomy forged from colour and light - making a connection between the artist's own sense of being a part of the land. Undifferentiated from this place, in the here and now, Springer's paintings show a recognisable continuation and relationship with him as a man within the land.
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Phil Johnson is one of this countries most respected writers and reviewers on contemporary music, He once described Springer's music as a kind of cross between Philip Glass and Chopin. He was referring to the cd 'metonic'. This piece ('metonic' disc2 track 1 ) written for four pianos, each part overdubbed by Mark himself and music for solo piano played by Mark also. This description by Phil Johnson tells us that Springer who shot to fame in the now legendary group 'rip rig and panic' has been developing a very distinctive and personal sound world that combines both his skill and virtuosity at the piano. Such as this piece from 'Menu' which beautifully highlights his quicksilver like touch ('menu' cd track 3) and his jazz and classical influences ('menu' track 1) and also a highly developed compositional structure in 'String Quartets' such as ('string quartets' disc1 track 3).
Springer quotes "some of my musical inspirations are the musicians who combined both composition with knowledge of instrumental virtuosity, and knowing the art of playing as well as composing." Springer's new cd 'Menu' now released by four worlds media on the 23 July 2013 and exemplifies his approach to creating a firm and solid compositional structure and then introducing an element of unexpected spontaneous response to that structure such as ('menu' disc1 track 10).
After 'rip rig and panic' Springer recorded several more cd's for Virgin records including the cd 'Menu' which combine-again these elements of compositional structures and free elements within. Mark has long felt that Jazz in many ways has been the single most significant new music to have emerged in the last one hundred years. But in more recent years one of the reasons Jazz has not really developed beyond a kind of pastiche of itself is that it's proponents do not focus enough on the composition and overall structures . Mark feels that "you can't rely just on technical ability but that you have to develop the compositions to a much further point than ever before." Another good example of this would be From the cd 'metonic' (first cd track 6) music for four pianos where the piece is structured throughout but is also improvised throughout and it is almost impossible to tell where one thing exists Over the other.
Visit The Exit Label to view Marks full catalogue of CD's available for purchase, or click on the album covers below.
THE EXIT LABEL
The EXIT LABEL is Springer's own label as well as being the home for some of the best Contemporary classical, Jazz and Pop music. Exit has established itself as a leading British based label that covers a wide area which includes String Quartets , Piano quintet, Solo Piano, music for 4 and 5 pianos, and Jazz trio.
The label has been releasing a series of critically acclaimed new recordings by the pianist and composer Mark Springer. Springer first came to prominence with the group Rip Rig & Panic - an innovative and revolutionary band - whose music still defies categorization, a group which also featured the singer Neneh Cherry and the legendary jazz trumpeter with the Ornette Coleman Quartet, Don Cherry. Also the label had released music featuring the PORTISHEAD drummer Clive Deamer and a series of experimental pop with vocals and electronica. We are a leading Record Company in the field of contemporary music.
Mark Springer has been exhibiting his work since his twenties and in that period has shown paintings jointly with his father, the artist and photographer, Mike Springer, and appeared with him in a film made by the BBC arts programme RPM, which explored the connections within their art and music. Mark Springer's painterly vision has extended to the art and design of his CD and booklet production and continues the incidences where his art and music combine.