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American Piano Music 1900-1930

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 1, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

The highlight of this exceptional program of American piano music is the first complete recording of Dane Rudhyar's Third Pentagram. Its fourth movement, Stars is a great American nocturne. Rudhyar lived a fascinating life studying philosophy, Buddhism, alchemy and Asian music. He painted (the cover image of the booklet is one of his works), wrote poetry, science fiction and books on astrology. The disc showcases landmark works by four composers who had contact with each other during the 1920s. Richard Zimdars, a professor of music at the University of Georgia, has performed the works on this compact disc to critical acclaim: He conjured the mythology of clusters with two Irish Legends of Cowell... in Copland's Variations of 1930 he compressed a chiseling technique up to heroic force (Rhein-Neckar Zeitung, Heidelberg) The most valuable contribution came after intermission with the First Piano Sonata of Ives. Confident performances of this big and difficult work are not common, and Mr. Zimdars gave one. (New York Times)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sonata No. 1 for Piano
  2. Three Irish Legends
  3. Third Pentagram The Release (Gates, Gift, Pentecost, Stars, Starburst)
  4. Piano Variations


Product Details

  • Performer: Richard Zimdars (piano)
  • Conductor: none
  • Composer: Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Dane Rudhyar, Aaron Copland
  • Audio CD (July 1, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Albany Records
  • ASIN: B002BWR0VW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,153 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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I'm pleased to agree with the NY Times, William Bolcom, Fanfare, etc.

Highly recommended, indeed. Zimdars' recording of the Ives 1st Sonata is absolutely riveting, performed with aplomb, assurance and absolute architectural control. This is an adrenaline-charged voyage through the exhilarating realm of this masterpiece. The Copland Piano Variations is another difficult-to-understand piece requiring careful study, and return study, even for the most adroit pianist. The more one returns to it, the more one sees. Zimdars' singular comprehension and perception make the music come alive through a fresh, exciting lens to someone like me who has performed this piece many times over the years. The grandeur and bold rhetoric of the Cowell and Rudhyar pieces are communicated with absolute authority.

The one-star review of this CD by Jordan Waring is likely to remain a minority opinion. To provide Amazon customers alternate opinions to mine and Mr. Waring's, three others follow, including one from composer William Bolcom, recipient of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for music:

"...this has not only included Charles Ives, which he plays superbly with the right kind of Brahmsian nuance that most pianists miss, but also Dane Rudhyar, Roy Harris, Aaron Copland...but what makes it more remarkable is that Zimdars has gone to some length to play more than just the notes of these pieces. The note-perfect but uninhabited renderings of so much recent music have been the bane of new-music interpretation for such a long time, and what is rare about Zimdars is his showing of many levels of musical poetry beneath the surface. - William Bolcom, Oct. 15, 2010

"He displays breathtaking chops...
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Format: Audio CD
With sincere appreciation of this talented artist's efforts and achievements, I want to especially note and applaud the inclusion - on this "American Piano Music" CD - of the music of DANE RUDHYAR, likely the least known of the four composers represented here. Rudhyar's work is open to many diverse interpretations, and Mr. Zimdars offers a unique and persuasive vision of his Third Pentagram.
That said, I must point out that the New York Times reviewer erred in calling this the "first complete recording" of Pentagram #3. That honor goes to California pianist Michael Sellers, who recorded it superbly under Rudhyar's supervision in 1972 [Orion LP ORS 7285], soon (if not already) to be re-released as a CD.
In CD format, I would also recommend the Pentagram #3 interpretation of Ron Squibbs - quite different but equally thought-provoking - and his 2013 recording includes all four of the Pentagrams. I would also recommend Richard Cameron-Wolfe's "Paris X" CD, which contains Rudhyar's Tetragrams ## 3 and 8 plus two early Paris works.
I strongly urge pianists dedicated to early 20th-century modernism to explore Rudhyar's substantial catalogue of works, most of which are available through the American Composers Alliance.
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Format: Audio CD
Zimdars has the rare ability to make the most complex of music instantly appealing and understandable. His playing is clear and precise without losing any of the raw expressiveness and character that Ives intends. He handles the wildness of the 4th movement of the Ives with a frenetic poise that is gripping. This disc is an American gem by an American pianist that is a master of this music. His breadth of knowledge of the piano literature set him apart as a valuable performer. I highly recommend this recording!
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Format: Audio CD
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Richard Zimdars' CD. Zimdars is a scholar of the highest rank, certainly one of the most knowledgeable in the field piano literature, which is demonstrated by the repertoire selection. Zimdars' expertise and intellectual curiosity has brought him to lecture around the world and to disseminate piano repertoire seldom performed. This CD is no exception: Zimdars' passion for these works transpires at every note.
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