This piece was written for my friend Waka Hasegawa and Joseph Tong. I first met Waka in 1999 when she played another piece of mine called "Frozen Heat". For me, who I am writing for is a very important part of the composition process, especially for solo/duo or any small chamber pieces. I always get my inspiration from the musicians who are going to premiere the piece. This inspiration doesn't just come from how they are as musicians; it also comes from their personalities. They might be sporty, or film buffs, or foodies. All of this is important to me. I know Waka and Joseph rather well, so finding out this information is easier. Also they happen to be married… and sharing a piano!... that was my starting point. The idea of husband and wife sharing a piano was quite sensual to me. I wanted those four hands to be as close as possible when they play. I also liked the idea of them holding the keys silently so that when the other notes are played, suddenly those silent keys start ringing. I wanted to let the chords build up together by two players. In a partnership often one person's action is silently contributed to by the other. To me this is an expression of love. Of course if another duo wanted to play this piece, they wouldn't necessarily need to be married but it would be great to imagine other pianists getting it on after playing "Half remembered city". Maybe I could then start a dating agency.
When I write music I always contemplate the visual. I can almost envisage camera moves, colours and a storyboard for all the musical material in the piece. In "Half remembered city" I wanted to have a lot of contrasting scenes which are spliced together in a very rapid, high energy style. One could say this is like MTV or an Extreme Sports Video.
Another influence on this piece was that I knew that it would be premièred in Japan. This is probably the first time one of my compositions has been played in my home country. I was thinking about my town Osaka, where I grew up until I was 15 and left Japan to study here. I had the typical ultra-busy school boy life there: 6 days a week in school, 3 days a week in 'juku' (advanced study evening classes), piano lesson, acting class, swimming class, no day off. That may be why this piece has so many rapid contrasting elements like a Japanese schoolboy's very busy day.
(edited by Harry Ross)
この「Half Remembered City」は僕にとって特別な曲です。まずは、友達のワカ、ジョーの為の曲、もうひとつは僕の母国である日本で初演されるということです。
Half Remembered Cityとはやはり故郷である大阪の町を意味してます。日本でされる初演、日本食、ガヤガヤとした町並み、大阪弁、などなど、ぼわーっと頭に浮かばせながら、時には「たこ焼き」やら（あと時にはお好み焼きも）想像しながら、始終雨天のロンドンでせっせとこの曲を書いていました。