Johnston, Phillip - Page of Madness

After ten years, and rejection by 37 record companies, Asynchronous Records is proud to announce the release of Page of Madness. Phillip Johnston's (co-leader of the fabulous Microscopic Septet) original score for Teinosuke Kinugasa's 1926 Japanese silent film masterpiece Kurutta Ippeiji (A Page of Madness) was commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and premiered at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theatre in 1998, performed by Phillip Johnston's Transparent Quartet. It has subsequently toured in the US, and most recently was performed to acclaim at the 2008 Sydney Film Festival.
In 1998 Sayre Maxfield of the Film Society of Lincoln Center approached me about creating an original score for Teinosuke Kinugasa's Japanese 1926 silent film masterpiece, Kurutta Ippeiji, (A Page of Madness). Our relationship had begun when they took over sponsorship of my George Melies Project and premiered it at the Walter Reade Theatre in 1997. I was not familiar with the film, but at the first screening I was blown away by the power and originality of the film. Page of Madness is a truly unique film. The story of a retired sailor who has taken a job as a janitor in a lunatic asylum to look after his insane wife, locked away after attempting to drown their child, a synopsis of the plot can't begin to explain the power of the film, nor the audacity of its vision. For Page of Madness I decided to try a different approach. I used a combination of traditionally noted music and improvisation that was carefully linked to the images of the film. We kept in synch through the use of simultaneously-started stop watches, and followed a score which described a the action, with timings, and called for specific instrument combinations and improvisations linked to those images.For the ensemble, I chose The Transparent Quartet (Joe Ruddick on piano, Mark Josefsberg on vibraphone, and David Hofstra on bass, and myself on soprano and alto saxophones), the group I had been working with for several years, and with which I had done the Melies Project. These brilliant musicians were perfect for a piece of this nature, being some of the most versatile and imaginative improvisers I had ever worked with. In a way, I had felt that I was wasting them in the previous years, with my music being so heavily notated (although they did a great job of performing it), and their being such great improvisers."-Phillip Johnston
  • LabelAsynchronous
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