Simon Mawhinney: Marlacoo

Mary Dullea (Performer)

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


Mary Dullea (piano) and Simon Mawhinney (composer) have undertaken many collaborations beginning in 2005 with performances and recordings of ‘Batu’, a work which explores the actual physical relationship between hands and keys and the degrees of tactility there might be, resulting in an infinite possibility of degrees of sound plus the open-ended nature of what might or might not indeed sound. It is almost like a spectral approach to a fixed keyboard instrument.
‘Marlacoo’, a lengthy 55-minute one-movement work, is the result of their most recent project and the recording was released in May 2018. This complex composition is a study of musical memory. The challenges and individual interpretation arise from an approach to sonority, texture and timbre in order to evoke the characters of this work from the rather austere to trancelike in nature. The compositional concept also explores combining a synthesis between directional time and circular time, where the ecstatic moment is sustained almost indefinitely.
As a performer, the over-arching scale of the structure of this work as well as the approach to circular time has only been achieved through a completely immersive engagement with the work. The physical approach to sound production has extended beyond understandings and practices of the control of parameters to a sense of abandonment within this large-scale experience, yet internalising the multitude of foreground and more subliminal notational information from extremely detailed dynamics, layering of chords, articulation and use of pedals. The aim is also to achieve in sound the spaciousness and physical qualities of the landscape and memory as alluded to in the title (an almost nostalgic memory, ever evolving, of a lake called Marlacoo). It is music that ranges from the sparse nature of the opening minutes to multi-layered and complex polyrhythmic writing within elaborate structural procedures.
Original languageEnglish
EditionAltarus (076958702624)
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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