Trancendental Pianism for some Trancendental Etudes
Darin Tysdal | Bloomington, MN 55420 | 05/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I couldn't believe that no one has reviewed any of these CD's of Rakowski's etudes! I first ran into them courtesy of Piano Today magazine, where they reviewed "Trillage". I also came upon C.F. Peters' editions of the etudes. When I saw a CD of his piano etudes, I had to have them. There are 22 etudes on this CD in no particular order (which can be frustrating, but Rakowski says that these can be played in no particular order, so why not follow the composer's wishes?). These are actually etudes having to deal with a certain technical feature, and you have a catalog of contemporary piano playing techniques as well as ones that Chopin wrote etudes about. The language is non-tonal (I shouldn't use ATONAL anymore) but sprinkled among them are tonal quotes (Beethoven's Fur Elise and Smoke On The Water) and great references to Jazz and Stride Piano which remind me of Nikolai Kapustin. My favorite is "Schnozzage" which uses the nose. I tried to play this piece-you have to memorize the hands and the nose parts because you can't read the music very well when your nose is in the middle of the keyboard! This etude is also very beautiful and impressionistic-and the nose has a solo! This combination of wicked humor,genuine emotion and feeling is a important part of Rakowski's compositional ethic (I just saw his website!) and very difficult but playable. Amy Dissanayke must be one of the most versatile pianists on the planet to be able to play this music with the same virtuosity, style and elan that each piece calls for. The recording quality is excellent. Do not overook this recording-if you like etudes of Bartok, Bolcom, Ligeti and Dusapin you will love these! Next, a review of more etudes on CD 2. We now need to hear the rest. There are at least 60 in all, I hear.....but he's probably writing another etude at this particular moment that you are reading this review! By the way, Rakowski teaches at Brandeis University."
Exciting Music-Outstanding Performance
Lotus-Seven | The mountains of Illinois | 11/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am in total agreement with Darin Tysdal's comments about this CD and can only add that although each Etude addresses a technical aspect of piano performance, they can more than hold their own as independent, entertaining works. Ms. Dissanayake's performance is impressive, both for her sometimes amusing and always clever interpretations as well as her obvious exceptional technique.
I've had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Dissanayake perform many times as the featured pianist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNow series of contemporary music, and can attest that her performances of this often "difficult" music are always outstanding. Chicago critics have called her "extraordinary" and "... (a) ferociously talented pianist"
The release of a second CD of more Etudes clearly confirms that Mr. Rakowski is delighted with this recording and the amazing Ms. D."