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An essential disk.
Jacob Greenberg | Chicago, IL | 10/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In these two disks, Oppens is so clearly what she has been now for decades: the foremost interpreter of American contemporary piano music. Her playing in these disks is simply spellbinding; her consummate musicianship and her amazing facility more than carries the day in all of these selections. The Nancarrow selections are especially incredible, but this is also my favorite recording of the Carter Night Fantasies: meticulous, incredibly detailed. I cannot recommend this disk too highly."
Oppens is marvelous in academic piano verse
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 04/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The profound highlight here is Carter's Night Fantasies. I have the Charles Rosen recording which sounds labored,timid and uninspired compared to Ms. Oppens. Here she brings a real sense of extroversion yet controlled of the fantasia concept at work.When the music is punctuated, as the opening it is forceful, yet from the dramatic world, not cold abstractions, thuds and clangs a la Stockhausen.She maintains this high sense of drama throughout the work with an understanding of the work's modest architecture, a one idea piece after Schumann or Debussy within the genre. The Nancarrow as well are demonstration of his rhythmic interest. Here the Tango(an obvious choice for rhythmic excursion) simply disrupts the regular pulse suggesting the dance. Bolcom is also a man of drama his Tango on the Dead Moth, has this quasi-comedic twist and not quite believable in the dark reminicences of the minor key,yet entertaining. Adams's Phyrgian Gates the polar opposite of the Carter makes a nice conceptual rounding, a democracy at work on this disc, but I've grown tired of Adams. The traditional beauty is still there, with the repetitive notes with slow introduction of timbral metamorphosis, like some red-yellow rose quietly swaying, sitting in an unknown garden. But the post-minimal world has been a well-worn,tired and retreaded one, where the musical tire marks have made deep impressions. Also it is a musical language one can learn quickly and all subsequent performances are then like we turned on the Xerox machine of our sub-conscious. I've also grown tired of Frederic Rzewski,who knows few equals in the impressive piano music he has written. Oppens knows it as no other,but Rzewski here still maintains his affinity for social realism in music which few have shared of his generation. Here a musical portrait to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kristallnacht is revealed with a folk song after the pieces title. This is meant as a meditation of the vanished part of Jewish culture. Harbison I don't find interesting either,born of academia,he dabbles in popular gestures with a fine sense of piano timbre and lyricism. Likewise the Lukas Foss, the Curriculum Vitae, I've heard played on accordeon. Foss had a wonderful beginning with his Echoi,and the impressive Time Cycle,but then his music grew mannered and tedious without a creative agenda. This is a little ditty of a work, and not representative Foss anyway. Wuorinen was known for carrying the twelve-tone Torch of post-Babbitized musical academia. At one point I suspect he thought his music was too serious and began adopting upbeat titles for his works as this one.Like travelling from uptown to downtown in New York. The reference is to the master piano entertianer Louis Gottschalk, at least that is my understanding. It is a Oppens commission, who only required the work to carry an element of extroversion which it admirably does. Wuorinen writes at good lengths within a classical frame."