Moments of Plastic Jubilation (1999)

for piano solo
duration: 5 minutes
score available from Promethean Editions, including score preview

Recording of Moments of Plastic Jubilation, performed by Katarina Kroslakova

Performance of Moments of Plastic Jubilation by Sabina Im:

Programme Notes

“More musical drivel from Matthew Hindson… how does that seem as a way of leading into a word or two on his orchestral piece, Speed? A bit sweeping and dismissive perhaps? Yes, but it is one of the legitimate reactions to Speed, which self-confessedly takes its musical cue from one of the lesser genres of our time. Techno music, nominated by Hindson as his stylistic starting point, is the sort of music you make when you want to grind your heel – ever so nonchalantly – on the old idea of music as a nobly expressive, humane activity.

Its mechanical repetitiveness of figuration and beat is a finger sign to musical as tradition – and, in case you feel like raising a red flag in sympathy, it means the same for the idea of music as revolution. This is music which goes with the spurious sense of immunity a hoon might feel while revving-up a wreck on the way to a fast-food joint; its moments of plastic jubilation, faithfully echoed by Hindson, at best fit the closing shots of the latest action picture schlock.

Of course, there is nothing of the hoon about Hindson. He seems a pleasant young man, undoubtedly talented, who is working at the moment as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s resident (or, as they say, attached) composer. They wouldn’t let a hoon in there, would they?

In fact, Speed is the soft of pseudo-pop score very much in favour with the musical establishment at the moment. Conductors like a shortish piece which gets under the guard of younger listeners – a majority, as it happens, at this 6.30 PM concert – and makes a lot of people feel they are up with the times without letting its stainless steel finish impinge seriously on their attention. You can jig with the beat – the SSO’s guest conductor, Muhai Tang, shook out a few rumba swivels as he left us in no doubt that he was attuned to the mood of the moment – and there are no indignant exits by members of the audience. If that was new music, that wasn’t so bad, was it? You could be high safely on this Speed.”

from a review of a Sydney Symphony Orchestra performance of SPEED (also by Matthew Hindson), The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday August 27 1999, page 13

This work for solo piano, Moments of Plastic Jubilation, was written partly in response to the above review, but also as being something of a representative summary of many of the composer’s beliefs regarding music and its place in contemporary 20th/21st century society.

Whilst the work at times demonstrates musical correlations with certain forms of popular music styles, it was also composed using 1960s-style modular techniques. The work is thus very sectional, and relies more heavily on contrast rather than exclusive motivic development to carry the music forward.

It was commissioned by ABC Classic FM for performance by the superb Australian pianist, Michael Kieran Harvey, as part of the ABC’s Millenium celebrations.

notes by Matthew Hindson.


“EXHILARATION motivated piano duo Michael Kieran Harvey and his sister Bernadette Harvey-Balkus… Moments Of Plastic Jubilation by enfant terrible Matthew Hindson was deliberately provocative, musical leftovers seasoned with wit.”

Fred Blanks, North Shore Times, 11 April 2001.

The first was Matthew Hindson’s Moments of Plastic Jubilation for piano solo (Michael Kieran Harvey), on of the expanding group of recent Australian pieces drawing their titles from the words of bad reviews (I hasten to add that your present correspondent has never been immortalised in this way). In this case, Hindson was inspired to a particularly graphic representation of a view once put in this newspaper that techno music grinding its heel on the old idea of music as a nobly, expressive humane activity.

After a few token bars of humane activity, Hindson’s heel-grinding became at times a slightly predictable thrash. There was more here, however, than the simple relishing of bad manners, and despite its excess, effectively realised by Harvey, I didn’t find the style gratuitous. As in many modernist pieces, subjectivity can be effectively expressed by its absence.

Peter McCallum, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 April 2001.

… the techno-junk of Matthew Hindson’s solo, Moments Of Plastic Jubilation (all plastic, little jubilation), added nothing to its composer’s reputation … We have to hear this stuff to be reminded of what substantial and significant piano repertoire really is. ”

John Carmody, Sun-Herald – Metro, 8 April 2001.

Other Information

An analysis of this piece with further background info in PDF format is available by clicking here.

Also available in a version entitled Plastic Jubilation, for piano and prerecorded part (12 minutes, 2 movements).

The opening of Moments of Plastic Jubilationis marked “Clayderman-esque”, in honour of the French pianist, Richard Clayderman. You can see videos of Richard Clayderman at the following:

Clayderman’s style of pianism is certainly very distinctive and while it used to drive me crazy at school when the librarians played it day in, day out, while I was trying to study, it certainly isn’t his fault.

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