Album Remarks & Appraisals:
ZOFO is at it again, this time with an all Terry Riley album, which includes original compositions, arrangements and a special commission by the duet. It is quite evident in this music that the composer and the performers were personally engaged in this electrifying project. From the very beginning, Terry Riley worked in collaboration with ZOFO in the making of this album. Mr. Riley himself said: "There is nothing quite like hearing the full 8 octaves of a piano sounding in all its orchestral richness." He certainly makes full use of the sounds of the piano in the pieces originally written for piano two hands, from The Heaven Ladder Book 5, which include the varying Cinco de Mayo, Jaztine, Waltz for Charismas, Tango Doble Ladiado, and Etude From the Old Country. Keisuke arranged G Song and Half-Wolf Dances at Moonlight, which were originally composed for string quartet, and Eva arranged Simone's Lullaby, originally for solo piano. The arrangements were both challenging and fun to create, but ZOFO managed to keep the transparency and flavor of Riley's originals while exemplifying the unique potential for four-hand piano. The Praying Mantis Rag was composed especially for ZOFO, and actively illustrates their vibrant character as a duet.
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
On to the release of Zofo (the piano fourhands duo of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi). Riley, a great pianist himself, understands the sonority of the instrument very well. This disc collects all his pieces for piano four hands along with a couple of excellent arrangements. Listeners familiar with his classic minimalist works will be surprised by the six pieces that come from the collection The Heaven Ladder, Book 5. These are tuneful, harmonically artful, and expressively exciting pieces that are constantly changing. More familiar is the G Song (originally composed for the Kronos Quartet). Zofo (a neologism for "20-figure orchestra") are the perfect musicians for this music, and Sono Luminus's production standards are first rate. (The release includes both conventional and Bluray discs.)
Audio Mixer: Daniel Shores .
Liner Note Author: Ellen Beveridge.
Recording information: Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia (12/16/2014-12/19/2014).
Photographers: Jim Block; Stuart Brinin.
ZOFO is the San Francisco piano four-hands duet of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi. (The name stands for "20-finger orchestra.") Zimmermann and Nakagoshi have been rightly lauded for their chemistry and their glittering, precise high-register work, and that is in evidence once again here on this collection of short pieces by the father of minimalism, Terry Riley. But an even stronger attraction is the chance to sample some of the music Riley has written in the years since his epochal "In C." Riley has been somewhat neglected in comparison with Philip Glass, John Adams, and Steve Reich, each of whom made moves in the direction of the classical grand tradition. The works heard here are apparently all more recent (dates would have been helpful). Some are original four-hand works, some were arranged by ZOFO from string quartet pieces (premiered by the Kronos Quartet), and one work, the delightful "Praying Mantis Rag," was commissioned by the duo from the octogenarian composer. The title of that suggests the quality that links most of the works on the album: Riley forged a quite unusual fusion between minimalism and vernacular rhythms. A work like the 13-minute "Etude from the Old Country" has the monumental, abstract quality for which Riley was famous, and at which ZOFO excels. But you can tap your feet to it, and they get this quality too. Highly recommended. ~ James Manheim
The CD/DVD is both a collaborative effort, and a realization of both the possibilities and difficulties of dealing with overlapping octave ranges when two pianists are sharing the same keyboard. The audible results are stunning. Ms. Zimmermann and Mr. Nakagoshi are a formidable duo, and even though each had differing perspectives on some of the works, the pair form a cohesive and captivating whole. Particularly enjoyable is their arrangement of “G Song”, and the “Praying Mantis Rag” (written by Mr. Riley specifically for this duo) is just simply delightful. And “Cinco de Mayo” is just a treat to listen to.
This is a two disc set, one Blu-Ray and the other a traditional CD. The audio quality of the Blu-Ray disc is unbelievable, and the CD itself is also of great quality. And while Mr. Riley’s music is clearly contemporary in nature, the music is approachable and pleasing, especially as brought to life by this duo. If Terry Riley’s music is something that you enjoy, then you absolutely must have this recording. If you are not familiar with Mr. Riley’s music, then open yourself to the musical journey contained herein. While I am rather a strict critic of new music, I do find myself particularly attracted to the soundscape brought to life on this recording. Strongly recommended!
Submitted on 10/07/15 by KlingonOpera
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