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Nancarrow: Studies for Player Piano; Tango; Toccata; Piece No. 2 for Small Orchestra; Trio; Sarabande & Scherzo

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 13, 1993
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Ensemble Modern
  • Conductor: Ingo Metzmacher
  • Composer: Conlon Nancarrow
  • Audio CD (July 13, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA Legacy
  • ASIN: B000003F9B
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,867 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
To put it bluntly, this is some of the most original and entertaining 20th century music you will ever hear.
Nancarrow's innovative player piano studies were written from the late 1940s to the early '80s and were intended, among other things, to explore ideas that were beyond the capacity of human performance. As electronic music was in its infancy when he began these studies, the player piano was Nancarrow's only outlet for these experiments. Unfortunately, their rhythmic complexities and furious tempos, as well as the unconventional instrument for which they were created, have limited their exposure. Nancarrow's audience in the US is still woefully small.
This recording by the Ensemble Modern does Nancarrow a remarkable service. They've taken pieces long believed to be too difficult for live performance, and play them with the exhileration of a great jazz band. The arrangements, prepared mostly for brass, woodwinds, piano, harpsicord, and percussion, are bright and beautifully played. This music is constantly inventive and enormously entertaining (Nancarrow is serious music's greatest humorist since Charles Ives). Personally, the performance of "Study No. 7" on this CD is my all-time favorite piece of music, period. Included with the dozen arrangements of player piano pieces are selections that Nancarrow wrote for convential instruments.
If you enjoy the more serious side of Frank Zappa, recent works of John Adams, Stravinsky, Bird, Bartok, Raymond Scott, Carl Stalling, or just want to hear a set of jaw-dropping ensemble performances, you've got to hear this recording.
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By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Certainly a departure from his work on the player piano, these are very delicious arrangements of some of his most interesting studies. It was one of my first forays into the world of "serious music" and i have, frankly, never listened to anything, anything, quite the same ever again. I had had no idea music could be like this, like what it sounds like inside my mind. If you are even looking at this page, there is some curiousness; become its slave, and buy this here cd. There is no way you could regret it, even if you do.
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Format: Audio CD
The previous reviewers said enough about Nancarrows history so that I won't touch on it. I like the orchestrated versions of the player piano pieces much more than the originals, they're more emotional, have greater dynamics, are less robotic (they swing at times) and the variety of timbres adds a lot to the listening experience. What were originally studies are now fully realized pieces. Perhaps not groundbreaking in the way the originals were, but so what. The beauty of Nancarrows' melodic and sometimes humorous music is really brought out by the orchestration. Very nice.
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Format: Audio CD
Conlon Nancarrow composed several works for ordinary instruments at both ends of his career, but in the middle he focused on the player piano. This was partially due to the fact that his music met with little interest or appreciation before the 1970s and also because they require almost inhuman virtuosity to bring off, particularly due to the intensely complex rhythms and cross-rhythms. Indeed the main novelty of Nancarrow's music lies precisely in the ingeniously innovative rhythmic patterns and, well, rhythmic textures.

This disc features live performances - scintillating performances - of several works originally composed for player piano (transcribed by Mikhashoff for ensemble with the composer's blessings), and it should be mentioned that Nancarrow in many cases had ordinary instruments in mind. The music is always meticulously thought out, architectural in the sense of Webern (but also baroque masters); there are audible jazz influences here, and despite the fact that every detail is carefully computed the music achieves a sense of spontaneity and directness.

The result obtained in these recordings differs quite markedly in terms of textures from the player piano originals, however. Notably the music comes across as softer and more roundly shaped than its original form. It certainly add a different layer of excitement, but it also loses the almost alienating, hard and motoric effects of the originals. For the most parts, it works well, and this disc is indeed something as a must for fans of the composer. But it is, in the end, a supplementary issue that cannot in any way replace the remarkable originals.

The disc's interest is of course also due to the inclusion of some pieces originally written for ensemble.
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By A Customer on July 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I couldn't get into this CD. I've heard some of Nancarrow's piano pieces and found them interesting, but when taken to a larger scale with an orchestra or ensemble, it sounds formless, senseless, and lazy. The piano trio is alright, but not worth getting the CD for.
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