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Two Jonny Greenwood Works Performed for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Two little-performed works by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood were performed by the New-York-based new music group Ensemble Signal as part of a new Tiny Desk concert for NPR. The first piece was Three Miniatures from Water, for piano, violin, bass, and tanpura (an Indian classical music instrument). In a statement provided to NPR, Greenwood, who was not in attendance at the taping, explained that the work consisted of sketches made while writing a larger commission in 2014. It was inspired by a scale devised by French 20th-century avant-garde composer Olivier Messiaen (one of Greenwood’s long-cited influences), which reminded him of Indian music.

The second work was another Messiaen-inspired piece for solo piano, 2015’s 88 (No. 1), for which Greenwood released sheet music last year. The work requires the pianist (in this case, Lisa Moore) to put on fingerless gloves halfway through the performance—a tribute to legendary pianist Glenn Gould as well as to protect the pianist’s hands during “some painful hammering” on the keys, Greenwood explains in his statement. “But don’t let that fool you into thinking the music is dark or angry: It is — or is meant to be — joyful,” he continued.

Earlier this year, Nonesuch released an expanded vinyl reissue of Jonny Greenwood’s celebrated There Will Be Blood score featuring two unreleased sections. Last year, his collaborative world-music project Junun toured with Radiohead, and albums of both his scores for P.T. Anderson’s Phantom Thread and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here were released. Watch the full Tiny Desk performance below and read Greenwood’s statement in the video description here.