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Nancarrow: Studies for Player Piano #1-5 [Box set, Import]

Conlon Nancarrow Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 11, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Wergo Germany
  • ASIN: B000031W5A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,296 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Vol. I: Study For Player Piano No. 3a
2. Vol. I: Study For Player Piano No. 3b
3. Vol. I: Study For Player Piano No. 3c
4. Vol. I: Study For Player Piano No. 3d
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Vol. II: Study For Player Piano No. 4
2. Vol. II: Study For Player Piano No. 5
3. Vol. II: Study For Player Piano No. 6
4. Vol. II: Study For Player Piano No. 14
See all 13 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Vol. III: Study For Player Piano No. 1
2. Vol. III: Study For Player Piano No. 2a
3. Vol. III: Study For Player Piano No. 2b
4. Vol. III: Study For Player Piano No. 7
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Vol. IV: Study For Player Piano No. 9
2. Vol. IV: Study For Player Piano No. 11
3. Vol. IV: Study For Player Piano No. 12
4. Vol. IV: Study For Player Piano No. 13
See all 15 tracks on this disc
Disc: 5
1. Vol. V: Study For Player Piano No. 42
2. Vol. V: Study For Player Piano No. 45a
3. Vol. V: Study For Player Piano No. 45b
4. Vol. V: Study For Player Piano No. 45c
See all 10 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worship at the altar of the once lowly player piano! March 14, 2000
As Ligeti said in an oft quoted letter 'this music is the greatest discovery since Webern and Ives......his music is so utterly original, enjoyable, perfectly constructed, but at the same time emotional' - and this encomium should make one sit up and take notice. These recordings have been issued before - here they are packaged in one box and are available at mid-price. The 5 cd's are each arranged in chronological order - if you want to follow the progress from Study 1 to Study 50 in absolute order then you have to dot about from CD to CD - but I found this planning perfect as you get a variety of the evolving styles on each CD. It certainly is an encyclopaedic progess - and however strange, and clangorously unfamiliar the player-piano may sound at first, the variety, exuberance and death defying mechanical virtuosity, and sheer range that Nancarrow gets out of this medium is breathtaking - and one gets hypnotized. To start the journey, take the earlier studies - 1-12 as these are the most obviously based on blues, spanish idioms, ragtime or other jazz styles and are clearly tonal (or at least modal) - thus prepared, you are then able to take on, and follow the more abstract pieces that follow, which dabble in non-metric ratios and extraordinary feats of canon, which of course is possible as these are piano rolls playing - not technically fallible people. But 'abstract' is what this music never seems - however complex the compositional technique it is always precisely heard and can be enjoyed as exhilarating pungent sound for its own sake. Some of the later studies use two player pianos (overdubbed) and the references to jazz and spanish idioms re-appear in more obvious form - they are actually never quite expunged in the intervening studies. Read more ›
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dizzying experiments by a brilliant maverick January 8, 2004
Format:Audio CD
A true compositional original, Conlon Nancarrow is best known for these mind-blowing pieces for player piano. Why this particular instrument? Because most of these short works are utterly unplayable by human beings, unless you are capable of say, depressing all 88 keys at the same time. While later in life Nancarrow also wrote a few small pieces for chamber ensembles, his work here is the core of his output and where his imagination truly took flight.
You may not be quite lucid after hearing something like Study No. 25, which has 1,028 notes in its final 12 seconds, or one of my favorites, the so-called "Canon X" (No. 21). It begins with two musical lines at opposite ends of the keyboard: the bass starts slowly and gradually accelerates, the treble begins in a super-fast blur of notes at the highest end and gradually descends, becoming ever-slower. In the middle of the piece, these two lines cross each other before they continue on their separate ways.
In study after study, Nancarrow explores complex relationships between meter and pitch, most of the time with absolutely astounding results. Some of these pieces are a bit more relaxed, with blues and jazz elements giving them an almost homespun quality. But soon the blizzard of notes returns, as the composer makes full use of the player piano's capabilities. You almost can't believe what you are hearing.
A word of caution: You probably don't want to program all five discs straight through. Well recorded as it is, the timbre of the instrument becomes wearing on the ear after awhile. Give your ears a break and to listen to something completely different, like Debussy, Copland -- or maybe Bob Dylan.
An essential collection for some -- I'm not sure whom! -- but something every listener should hear at least once.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars symphony of a thousand (pianos) November 14, 2004
Format:Audio CD
Imagine for a moment that you have entered a room full of slightly beat-up upright pianos. These pianos begin to come to life by sputtering out unusual, irregular melodies. The melodies don't fit together exactly, but somehow they seem right sounding together. Before you know it, there are so many pianos playing that you can't keep track of them all and they begin to accrue into an impossibly dense spray of sound. Even if you had a roomful of humans playing these pianos they wouldn't get the overwhelming, unswerving independence of each individual line in each piano. The pianos stop playing and you wonder what just happened....

Hopefully this description will give you some indication of what you're in for with these wonderful studies for player piano. Because Nancarrow was working with these mechanical instruments, he could combine complex ratios of rhythms against each other. Some are so subtle that no human could replicate them exactly. This is not to say that the music is dehumanized. It has a great deal of warmth and humor. What Nancarrow gains from the very mechanical nature of these instruments is part of the appeal.

These studies are as rugged and individual as the composer and, as mentioned earlier, Ligeti's Etudes would never have been possible without Nancarrow's wonderful music.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Ideas, Experiment upon Experiment December 29, 2000
Conlon Nancarrow is one of those composers who could exist only in real life, as he would be too implausible for fiction. Nancarrow was a composer for player piano, who spent much of his life an expatriate in Mexico, composing music steeped in both early 20th C. jazz and "modernist" classical traditions, and yet music that is entirely individual.
For me, Nancarrow's work functions best when he illustrates the sheer possibility of the keyboard freed from the limitations of a human player or players. The player piano in Nancarrow's work is an acrobat, ready to twirl on wires from which human piano players are unable to dangle. I find least satisfying the experimental works which are centered less on the possibility of the player piano, and more on the synthesis of 30s jazz into a unique classical aesthetic. I freely confess to being a listener rather than a musician in my own right, and some of the experiments just don't keep me hooked.
Still, if you're longing for something quite different and of high quality, Nancarrow may be what you are seeking.
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