As a result of a ‘holiday’ to Port St Mary two days before the Manx border shut in 2020, Matthew Warren moved to the Isle of Man. He finished his PhD in sociology from a flat in Port Erin and, after a stint teaching at Durham University, is delighted to have returned to co-found social enterprise, Earthscope. Alongside its work in climate and nature training, he lectures at UCM, directs the Tallis Consort and sits at the piano composing.
1) Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
In a series of vignettes, Marco Polo tells Kublai Kahn about the many cities he has seen, only they’re all too strange to be real. I love the blurry boundaries of reality, allegory, and straight up fantasy that Calvino uses to make the everyday strange.
2) A Brief Encounter by David Lean and Noël Coward
Not everyone’s cup of tea nowadays, but for me something about the intensity of the holding back of emotion makes the joys and angst all the more potent.
3) Love Me Or Leave Me by Nina Simone
What’s better than either jazz or classical piano? Jazz and classical piano. This track is an object lesson in versatility and fusion.
4) ‘Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk
Monk has perhaps had the most influence on my own music of any pianist. Where others play gentle curves, he plays in unexpected turns and splinters of notes at odd angles.
5) Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machault, Ensemble Organum
Machault’s Messe de Nostre Dame may be getting on for seven centuries old, but in the extraordinary recording by Ensemble Organum it is revitalised with a strained and slightly wild sound.
6) Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet by Gavin Bryars & an anonymous singer
The story goes Bryars left a recording of a snippet of a song playing on loop and returned to an unnatural quiet in the neighbouring art studio and a few people in tears. I can only advise you listen to it to see if it might be true.
7) Nocturne in C Sharp Minor by Frédéric Chopin
One of my all time favourite pieces to play - Chopin’s beauty and pathos at its best.
8) Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies
Another acquired taste, Maxwell Davies (who was latterly the master of the Queen’s music) created this piece of extraordinary musical theatre when he was a young firebrand in the ‘60s.
It shocked audiences then–perhaps it still does now, I’m not sure. Either way, I owe a lot of the composer I am to this piece.
9) The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) by Tom Waits
Tom Waits has been a soundtrack to much of my life since I was a teenager. His words and his voice are one of those flavour combinations that I can’t find anywhere else.
10) Roya by Liraz
We all need a song about hope and this is one such for me. Liraz has two versions of this song, one empowering and the other for a hope of a more desperate kind.