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Frederic Rzewski (b.1938): Piano Music - Fantasia; Second Hand or Alone at Last; De Profundis / Robert Satterlee, piano

Album Summary

>Rzewski, Frederic : Fantasia for piano
>Rzewski, Frederic : Second Hand, or Alone at Last, novelettes (6), for piano left-hand
>Rzewski, Frederic : De Profundis, melodramatic oratorio for solo pianist playing & reciting
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Frederic Rzewski is one of the most influential figures in contemporary music. In the composer's own words, for this second, 1999 version of Fantasia, 'I ... changed the music to obscure the tune, putting in lots of wrong notes and kind of stomping on and smudging everything.' Second Hand, or Alone at Last was written for Robert Satterlee, the left hand 'executing the most spectacular acrobatics.' Described by the composer as 'melodramatic oratorio' for speaking pianist, De Profundis is a startlingly original work which uses an Oscar Wilde text written during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol and requires the pianist to recite, sing, hum, whistle, use a Harpo horn, and hit his own body and the piano while playing a score of considerable variety and drama. Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated can be found on Naxos 8.559360.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, Clare (05/27/2007-05/28/2007).



Reviews

Unusual contemporary work from Frederic Rzewski
This disc consists of 3 different works by Frederic Rzewski – Fantasia, Second Hand (Six Novelettes for piano, left hand), and De Profundis (for Speaking Pianist).

The first piece (Fantasia) is rather rhythmic, but is most definitely contemporary – almost Charles Ives like -- and does not leave the listener walking away with a particular hummable tune. The short liner notes indicate that the composer revised the piece ten years after its inception and “…changed the music to obscure the tune, putting in lots of wrong notes and kind of stomping on and smudging everything.” Enough said there.

Much more satisfying are the Six Novelettes for piano left hand, which are essentially studies for the left hand alone. These are interesting exercises that push the pianist through melodic and rhythmic digital gymnastics, but are pleasing nonetheless.

As for the last piece (De Profundis for Speaking Pianist), has an interesting premise – that being to bring forth eight sections of text by Oscar Wilde (written while Wilde was imprisoned for homosexual offences) and accompany them all manner of painful chords and percussive sounds. Unfortunately for me, the work itself descended into the realm of performance art and I found myself sufficiently distracted by the vocal and non-vocal histrionics such that I looked forward to the end of the work.

The pianist, Robert Satterlee, chose difficult material to perform and record, which is laudable. And if this sort of contemporary sound is what you gravitate toward, then you might find something of value here. But if you are the cadre of listeners that finds themselves wondering when the noise is going to stop, then I would avoid this particular recording.

Submitted on 06/30/14 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Rzewski, Frederic : Fantasia for piano
  • Performer: Robert Satterlee (Piano)
  • Notes: Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, Claremont, California, USA (05/27/2007-05/28/2007)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Rzewski, Frederic : Second Hand, or Alone at Last, novelettes (6), for piano left-hand
  • Performer: Robert Satterlee (Piano)
  • Notes: Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, Claremont, California, USA (05/27/2007-05/28/2007)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2005

>Rzewski, Frederic : De Profundis, melodramatic oratorio for solo pianist playing & reciting
  • Performer: Robert Satterlee (Piano)
  • Notes: Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, Claremont, California, USA (05/27/2007-05/28/2007)
  • Running Time: 28 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1992