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Bolcom: Music for Two Pianos: Recuerdos / Frescoes / Sonata in One Movement

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 15, 2005
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Product Details

  • Performer: Elizabeth Bergmann, Marcel Bergmann
  • Composer: William Bolcom
  • Audio CD (November 15, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • ASIN: B000BK53HO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,180 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
William Bolcom is one of the most innately talented composers working today. His enormous output varies wildly in quality and style -- rather like that of his erstwhile composition teacher, Darius Milhaud -- but when he is at the top of his form, which is often, he cannot be beat. His evening-long orchestral song cycle (cantata?, extravaganza?) 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience' is one of the true masterpieces of our age. This disc demonstrates his varied styles as well as his varied quality of output. The talented duo-pianists, Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann, have put together a program that includes works from his very earliest (and academic) style through his more recent masterly incorporation of multiple styles in one work. In the former category is the brief Schoenbergian 'Interlude' from the early 1960s. 'Frescoes', written slightly later, features tone clusters, aleatoric passages, inside-the-piano tone production and passages where the two pianists are intentionally out of synchronization. The thing that saves this rather tired set of gestures (tired, that is, from a 21st century vantage point) is Bolcom's wit, his always inventive and engaging use of varied rhythm and, even in the most solemn moments, a lack of self-regarding pomposity. The effects are enhanced by the composer having his pianists also play harmonium and harpsichord in several passages.

Much more agreeable to my ears are the remaining works. The absolutely lovable 'Recuerdos' ('Reminiscences') are three homages to American composers. Chôro (Homage to Ernesto Nazareth), Pasco (à la mémoire de Louis-Moreau Gottschalk), and Valse Venezolano (à la mémoire de Ramón Delgado Palacios) should feature prominently on two-piano programs.
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I heard a performance of some of Bolcom's work. The version on this CD is not as good as the performance I heard and the some of the other selections are pretty weird.
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