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Conlon Nancarrow: Late and Unknown Works on Piano Rolls / Conlon Nancarrow, player piano

Notes & Reviews:

For decades, Conlon Nancarrow's creative activity was confined to the privacy of his studio: he wrote music for the player piano, punched it manually onto paper rolls, and listened to it played by his mechanical instruments. There is no more authentic way of experiencing Nancarrow's extraordinary repertoire than listening to it on his own specially modified instruments. In honor of the 100th birthday of Nancarrow, Wergo presents Late and Unknown, an album featuring numerous first recordings on the composer's own player pianos. The program documents Nancarrow's practice of turning old rolls into new works and his usage of the player piano as a tool for testing practically everything he wrote. Of special note, current technology has made possible the first recording of a properly coordinated version of the ambitious Study No. 48c for two superimposed rolls.

American Record Guide, May/June 2013
These are addenda to Nancarrow's already recorded complete output. All are Studies, six newly unearthed, and there are pieces for his friends Ligeti and Ursula Oppens. These are played on the composer's original keyboards. For Ligeti (1988) is a five-minute 65th birthday present and is in fact a revision of the original Study 3. These jazz riffs are in the rhythmic proportions 3:4:5 and produce a joyously abstract dance worthy of any number of Picasso- influenced Americans. Study 18 is a one-minute addition to the original. Study 48 is actually two separate ones for two player pianos, played simultaneously as a finale. This alone is worth the price of admission. These are all worth hearing, especially if you are familiar with the sanctioned music. Nancarrow completists will obviously need this.


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