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Rzewski Plays Rzewski: Piano Works, 1975-1999

  • 79623

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  • "They were both fearless, pushing back against the severe music that seemed to dominate the modern composition landscape during the 1960s and 1970s, the same music that was, by the way, a major part of Nonesuch’s identity during that period," writes Nonesuch Records Chairman Emeritus Bob Hurwitz, in a remembrance of composers Louis Andriessen and Frederic Rzewski. "Neither was afraid to reference vernacular music, and jazz, and popular and folk music, and most importantly, both embraced a tonal language that was out of favor at the moment they were coming of age as composers. Their music was deadly serious at times, and polemical and political, but it could be humorous, and always filled with humanity."

  • Composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski, whom music critic Mark Swed once called "the greatest pianist-composer of our time," has died at the age of 83. Emerging in the 1960s with the improv collective Music Elettronica Viva, the expatriate American composer spent his entire career apart from what he described as the “elitist contemporary music establishment,” and established his own unique compositional style in which improvisation and composition are inextricably linked. In 2002, Nonesuch Records released Rzewski Plays Rzewski: Piano Works 1975-1999, a seven-disc, 25-year retrospective of his piano-based work with new recordings performed by the composer.

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  • About This Album

    Emerging in the 1960s with the improv collective Music Elettronica Viva, expatriate American composer Frederic Rzewski spent his entire career apart from what he has described as the “elitist contemporary music establishment,” and established his own unique compositional style in which improvisation and composition are inextricably linked.

    Nonesuch Records celebrated Rzewski’s distinctive body of work with the release of a 7-CD, 25-year retrospective of the composer’s piano-based work, Rzewski Plays Rzewski: Piano Works 1975-1999, on September 24, 2002. The discs feature all new recordings performed by the composer of such classic works as The People United Will Never Be Defeated! and De Profundis, a dramatic work incorporating the Oscar Wilde letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, spoken by the pianist. Also included are Mayn Yingele, inspired by the verse of Morris Rosenfeld, poet of the New York sweatshops; the Piano Sonata, with variations on “L’Homme Armé”; the Fantasia; and four of eight parts of The Road, a seven-hour work he had been assembling since 1995, conceptualized as being “like an epic Russian novel in the tradition of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.”

    He was a student of Charles Mackey in the 1950s; at Harvard and Princeton he met valued kindred spirits such as Christian Wolff and David Behrman. Moving to Rome with a Fullbright Scholarship in 1960, he found his unique voice, felt freed from academia, and he settled there to create his own brand of provocative music. Rzewski lived in Brussels, where he was Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Liège, Belgium, from 1977 until his death in 2021.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Frederic Rzewski, piano

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced and edited by Marc-Henri Cykiert
    Recorded March 1998-March 2001 at Odéon 120/The Right Place, Brussels
    Sound Engineer: Michaël W. Huon
    Piano: Steinway D274 (Pianos Maene, Brussels)

    Design by John Gall
    Photography by Michael Wilson

    Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

nonesuch's picture
on October 7, 2009 - 5:49pm
genre: 
Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 04:00
DescriptionExcerpt: 

This seven-CD retrospective celebrates 25 years of solo-piano compositions by American composer/pianist Frederic Rzewski, his provocative style, and marriage of composition with improvisation. The New York Times called his performances here “very much worth hearing,” saying “there is a brilliance here, a blinding intensity, that is thrilling in itself.”

Description: 

Emerging in the 1960s with the improv collective Music Elettronica Viva, expatriate American composer Frederic Rzewski spent his entire career apart from what he has described as the “elitist contemporary music establishment,” and established his own unique compositional style in which improvisation and composition are inextricably linked.

Nonesuch Records celebrated Rzewski’s distinctive body of work with the release of a 7-CD, 25-year retrospective of the composer’s piano-based work, Rzewski Plays Rzewski: Piano Works 1975-1999, on September 24, 2002. The discs feature all new recordings performed by the composer of such classic works as The People United Will Never Be Defeated! and De Profundis, a dramatic work incorporating the Oscar Wilde letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, spoken by the pianist. Also included are Mayn Yingele, inspired by the verse of Morris Rosenfeld, poet of the New York sweatshops; the Piano Sonata, with variations on “L’Homme Armé”; the Fantasia; and four of eight parts of The Road, a seven-hour work he had been assembling since 1995, conceptualized as being “like an epic Russian novel in the tradition of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.”

He was a student of Charles Mackey in the 1950s; at Harvard and Princeton he met valued kindred spirits such as Christian Wolff and David Behrman. Moving to Rome with a Fullbright Scholarship in 1960, he found his unique voice, felt freed from academia, and he settled there to create his own brand of provocative music. Rzewski lived in Brussels, where he was Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Liège, Belgium, from 1977 until his death in 2021.

ProductionCredits: 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced and edited by Marc-Henri Cykiert
Recorded March 1998-March 2001 at Odéon 120/The Right Place, Brussels
Sound Engineer: Michaël W. Huon
Piano: Steinway D274 (Pianos Maene, Brussels)

Design by John Gall
Photography by Michael Wilson

Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

Cover Art: 
Nonesuch Selection Number: 

79623

Number of Discs in Set: 
7discs
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597962321BUN
Price: 
0.00
Label: 
MP3
UPC: 
603497079063
Price: 
39.00
Artist Name: 
Frederic Rzewski
MusicianDetails: 

MUSICIANS
Frederic Rzewski, piano

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