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Frederic Rzewski (b.1938): Four Pieces; Hard Cuts; The Housewife's Lament / Ralph van Raat, piano

Album Summary

>Rzewski, Frederic : Four Pieces, for piano
>Rzewski, Frederic : Hard Cuts, for percussion, piano & chamber ensemble
>Rzewski, Frederic : The Housewife's Lament, variations on a theme, for harpsichord
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Frederic Rzewski is most celebrated for his virtuosic variations for piano, The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (8.559360). The Four Pieces began as a sequel to that breath-taking work, but whilst sharing certain similarities - Andean dance rhythms and tremendous drama - it occupies its own very distinct sound world, offering a compound of intense lyricism, shattering darkness, and hints of revolutionary fervor. The Housewife's Lament is a set of variations on an anon. 19th c. tune with strong influences of Beethoven. The punning title Hard Cuts refers to cuts both budgetary and musical, and Rzewski's signature elements appear throughout: folk rhythms, pointillist clarity, minimalism, and unique craftsmanship.

American Record Guide, January/February 2015
Four Pieces date from 1977, two years after his gargantuan set of variations, The People United Will Never be Defeated!. These pieces were meant to be a sequel. The title of Hard Cuts (2011) refers to budget cuts made after 2007's global financial meltdown. The Housewife's Lament (1980) is another set of variations. This is an important release, and pianists should snap it up immediately. So should anyone interested in the 20th Century piano repertoire. Rzewski is himself a brilliant pianist, and he should be pleased with the efforts of Mr Van Raat.



Reviews

Van Raat Excels with Rzewski
Pianist/composer Frederic Rzewski is best known for The People United Will Never Be Defeated!. Echoes of that massive set of piano variations can be heard in this program of shorter works by Rzweski.

The Housewife's Lament, like The People..., is a set of variations on a pre-existing tune. Although the scope of the variations is much smaller than The People... they're no less though. Rzewski breaks the simple tune into its component parts and uses them in new and surprising ways, showing the full potential of the source material.

The Four Pieces of 1977, to my ears, are almost a catalog of Rzewski's style. There syncopated rhythms, hints of jazz, folk-derived melodies, and Rzewski's unique voicing of chords, all coming together in these four studies. If one needed an introduction to Rzewski, the Four Pieces would be a good place to start.

Pianist Ralph van Raat has an exceptional rapport with this music, and his performances of them hold up well in comparison to Rzewski's own. Hard Cuts was composed for Ralph van Raat and Lunapark, who perform the work on this album. In this case, "hard" doesn't necessarily mean "difficult" -- but it does mean sudden. The work is a heady melange of melodic and harmonic elements that rapidly jump from one to the other. It's an exciting work, made even more so by the performances of van Raat and Lunapark.

If you only know Rzewski through The People... this recording will add to your understanding and appreciation of his unique compositional voice. If you haven't yet heard The People... this recording can help prepare you to better appreciate Rzweski's masterwork. Either way, I highly recommend this release.
Submitted on 08/29/14 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Rzewski, Frederic : Four Pieces, for piano
  • Performer: Ralph Raat (Piano)
  • Conductor: Arnold Marinissen
  • Ensemble: Lunapark
  • Notes: Sweelinckzaal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (08/10/2011-08/11/2011)
  • Running Time: 32 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1977

>Rzewski, Frederic : Hard Cuts, for percussion, piano & chamber ensemble
  • Performers: Arnold Marinissen (Percussion); Ralph Raat (Piano)
  • Ensemble: Lunapark
  • Running Time: 6 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>Rzewski, Frederic : The Housewife's Lament, variations on a theme, for harpsichord
  • Performer: Ralph Raat (Piano)
  • Notes: Sweelinckzaal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (08/10/2011-08/11/2011)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1980