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Piano Music

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Audio CD, August 8, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Frederic Rzewski, born in 1938, is a major American composer as well as virtuoso pianist. A student of Virgil Thomson, Roger Sessions, Walter Piston, and Milton Babbitt at Harvard and Princeton, he later studied in Italy with Luigi Dallapiccola. After co-founding Musica Elettronica Viva with Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum, Rzewski returned to New York in 1971. He is especially famous for his set of piano variations on The People United Will Never Be Defeated, written in 1974. The Four Pieces on this recording came the next year. John Adams, born in 1947 in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a much-honored American composer with strong roots in minimalism. His opera Nixon in China won the 1989 Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition. Adams's work On the Transmigration of Souls, a choral work commemorating the victims of the September 11 attacks, won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Phrygian Gates is a piano piece written by Adams in 1977-1978. The piece,! together with its smaller companion China Gates, is considered Adams's "opus one." They are, according to his own claims, his first compositions consisting of a coherent personal style. Italian pianist Emanuele Arciuli performed a program at the Italian Academy in 2003 that was described by Anne Midgette in the New York Times as "an excellent recital of contemporary music". While Arciuli’s repertoire ranges from the music of Bach to the present, he is best known for exciting and nuanced performances of recent music for solo piano, particularly by American and Italian composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Giacinto Scelsi, Salvatore Sciarrino, John Adams, and Frederic Rzewski.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I
  2. II
  3. III
  4. IV
  5. Phrygian Gates


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 8, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Stradivarius
  • ASIN: B000FTWAOU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,617 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By scarecrow VINE VOICE on May 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Oddly enough the "Four Pieces" are not on the Rzewski 7 Disc Set, with rzewski playing his oeuvre. But these are quite extraordinary. Rzewski's creativity kinda gives itself away with the more conservative language he likes now and then of the fifths and half-steps, like the East Coast school, Barber, and Piston, the overly lyrical bends, predictably oriented. This musical language the "second piece" here is quite different than the haunting one of octaves, the "third piece", displacing different registers quite beautiful,yet not without an anxiety-ridden kind of tension. The "fourth piece" has entered the repertoire, it begins on the top on the piano, and descends, a repeated study here, the little single tone builds to massive proportions, Do we believe in it?, I suspect since we know where it came from, but I suspect this repeated note is a common part of the piano avant-garde, I suppose since Stockhausen the "ninth klaveirstuck", that Rzewski played decades ago.Still Rzewski knows how to make his own lyricism work for his music. The "first piece", has more a folkish charm to it, more American I suspect. But these are all quite brilliant pieces.

The Adams's "phyrigian gates" you can take it or leave it. He is quite an honest creator and claims no dimensions of originality in his work. He "tail-ends, "tail-gates" achievements elsewhere and makes them work for himself. Well we all do that, but Adams' music seems to always be closer to the shortest distance between two lines than his other minimalist brethren, Glass and Reich, less so the more esoteric Riley, and SW culture Garland.Well minimalism had to have a WASP in its cultural frame to make it complete.The way Carter functions on another level.I don't make the systemic cultural rules, they are just given thusly.
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