Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Millennium Fantasy; Images; Peanuts Gallery

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Millennium Fantasy; Images; Peanuts Gallery

5.0 1
by Alexander Jiménez
     
 

Much-honored American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has managed to satisfy both specialist audiences and general concertgoers over her career, often writing works that develop accessible material in a rigorous way. This disc collects three Zwilich works for piano and orchestra, and the interest begins with the fact that none of them can really be described as a piano… See more details below

Overview

Much-honored American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has managed to satisfy both specialist audiences and general concertgoers over her career, often writing works that develop accessible material in a rigorous way. This disc collects three Zwilich works for piano and orchestra, and the interest begins with the fact that none of them can really be described as a piano concerto. Instead, the piano-orchestra dialogue is mapped onto other content, programmatic in two cases. The nonprogrammatic piece is the "Millennium Fantasy," based on an unidentified folk song that Zwilich learned from a family member; it appears fragmentarily throughout and is assembled at the end of the two-movement work. "Images" (1986) consists of short movements depicting paintings in the collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, along with one expressing Zwilich's reaction to the museum as a whole; many listeners will be hard pressed to catch the representational language here. Not so with the final work, "Peanuts Gallery," composed in 1996 and apparently part of a mutual homage with cartoonist Charles Schulz, who mentioned Zwilich in several strips. Each movement depicts one of the strip's familiar characters, and U.S. listeners, at least, will have no trouble picking these out. Beethoven's "Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106, Hammerklavier," is quoted in the opening movement, "Schroeder's Beethoven Fantasy," and recurs later in the work. This work would be ideal for programs aimed at young listeners (who still remember Peanuts, long after Schulz's death), and it's both light and very artfully done. The album benefits from the presence of pianist Jeffrey Biegel, who has a lot of experience with Zwilich's works, and the enthusiastic Florida State University Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Jiménez. Some might criticize Naxos for using presumably low-cost university orchestras, but the fact is that young musicians who become involved in worthwhile projects of lasting value will go on to create prosperous musical economies of their own. A good place to start with Naxos' American Classics series.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/28/2010
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943965627
catalogNumber:
8559656
Rank:
375302

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