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Bernard Rands (1960-2010): Piano Music / Robert Levin, Ursula Oppens, pianists

Album Summary

>Rands, Bernard : Espressioni (3) for piano
>Rands, Bernard : Espressione 4, for 2 pianos
>Rands, Bernard : Memo 5, for piano
>Rands, Bernard : Preludes (12), for piano
>Rands, Bernard : Impromptu, for piano
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Bernard Rands's (b. 1934) output for piano draws influences from varied sources, though it eschews the tendency of postmodernism to treat all music and all styles as equally valid. Rather, Rands aims at homogeneity, at the integration of a craftsman, at music borne of both the heart and the mind. The centerpiece of the present recording is the set of twelve Preludes (2007), with the program spanning a half-century of Rands's work. The performances are by two of the leading figures in the contemporary piano world.

American Record Guide, May/June 2014
Five piano works by Bernard Rands dating from 1960 to 2010. Earliest is Three Expressions (1960). Expression IV (1964) is for two pianos and is along the same lines. Memo 5 (1975) is more of the same. All told, the Preludes are impressive and well worth the price of admission.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: SUNY College at Purchase, Theaters A & C, Purchase, New (2013-03-23&2013-03-25&2013-).



Reviews

Engaging Retrospective
By presenting a selection of piano works spanning 40 years, Bridge makes it easy to hear how Bernard Rands matured as a composer, from strict serialist to a more intuitive (albeit still non-tonal) style.

The release opens with his 1960 composition, "Tre Espressioni." This is an early work, and to my ears, the pointillist atonality sounds a little to academic and emotionless. "Espressione IV," written just four years later for two pianos seems more fully developed. In this case, the two pianos start off with completely contrasting material and gradually work towards a confluence by the end.

In "Memo 5," composed in 1975, I thought I could detect a little bit of humor amid the disjunct tone clusters and rapid passage work. According to the liner notes, Rands wrote it to express his displeasure with "PPP -- pretty piano pieces." His displeasure is made quite clear.

The largest work on the album is Rands' 2007 "Preludes." This collection of 12 preludes was dedicated to composer and pianist Robert D. Levin, and the first letter of each prelude spells out his name (Ricecare, Ostinato, Bordone, Elegia, Ritornello, Toccata, etc.). Collectively, the set has a greater range of musical expression than the earlier pieces on the album. Some are just as spiky as "Tre Espressioni," but the writing seems more sophisticated and authentic, somehow. Some of the preludes are even somewhat lyrical (but never sentimental).

"Impromptu," finished in 2010 concludes the program in a satisfying fashion. In contrast to the opening work, the contour is smoother, the dissonance less aggressive, and the overall tone more amiable. To me, it sounded like Rands had completely internalized his compositional process, and the work had a naturalness to it that the early piano pieces lacked.

Ursula Oppens and Robert Leven do excellent work bringing Rands music to life. The technical requirements are steep, but both artists never lose sight of the overarching musical organization of the works.
Submitted on 04/28/14 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Rands, Bernard : Espressioni (3) for piano
  • Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano)
  • Notes: SUNY College at Purchase, Theaters A & C, Purchase, New York (2013-03-23&2013-03-25&2013-)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1960

>Rands, Bernard : Espressione 4, for 2 pianos
  • Performers: Robert Levin (Piano); Ursula Oppens (Piano)
  • Notes: SUNY College at Purchase, Theaters A & C, Purchase, New York (2013-03-23&2013-03-25&2013-)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1964

>Rands, Bernard : Memo 5, for piano
  • Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano)
  • Notes: SUNY College at Purchase, Theaters A & C, Purchase, New York (2013-03-23&2013-03-25&2013-)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1975

>Rands, Bernard : Preludes (12), for piano
  • Performer: Robert Levin (Piano)
  • Notes: SUNY College at Purchase, Theaters A & C, Purchase, New York (2013-03-23&2013-03-25&2013-)
  • Running Time: 38 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2007

>Rands, Bernard : Impromptu, for piano
  • Performer: Robert Levin (Piano)
  • Notes: SUNY College at Purchase, Theaters A & C, Purchase, New York (2013-03-23&2013-03-25&2013-)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2010