Jonny Greenwood Debuts New Music Via Ensemble Signal Tiny Desk Concert

The most recent music from Jonny Greenwood, the Radiohead multi-instrumentalist and film-score great, hasn’t been a record. It’s been a piece of sheet music. Last year, Greenwood published the Glenn Gould-inspired solo piano piece “88 (No.1).” And today, those of us who don’t play piano and don’t have the ability to force people to play piano for us can hear the piece. It’s part of one of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert videos, and it appears alongside a new Greenwood piece called “Three Miniatures From Water.”

Greenwood was not actually present for his own Tiny Desk Concert. Instead, the New York contemporary music group Ensemble Signal performed “Three Miniatures From Water,” which Greenwood began in 2014 as a commission for the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Ensemble Signal pianist Lisa Moore played “88 (No.1).” Both pieces are tingly and evocative, and Greenwood says that both of them are inspired by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, written in the modal system that he devised.

Writing for NPR, Greenwood says, “Unfortunately, I was nowhere near Washington, D.C. for this recording. And I still find it bizarre that you can put a musical idea on paper and have it reproduced at such a distance — and with such added life.” Here’s the video:

You can read what Greenwood says about both pieces here. Also, Greenwood recently chose a set of songs for the NPR show All Songs Considered, and it includes pieces from Messiaen, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Steve Reich, as well as a New Order song. Check that out here.