George Rochberg: Piano Music, Vol. 1

George Rochberg: Piano Music, Vol. 1

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by Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo
     
 

Originally recorded in 1998 and issued on the Gasparo label the following year, this album was acquired by Naxos and reissued as the kickoff to an apparently complete cycle of George Rochberg's piano music. The entire album is devoted to a single 70-minute work, "Circles of Fire," and it's something of a summation of the life's work of this American composer, who… See more details below

Overview

Originally recorded in 1998 and issued on the Gasparo label the following year, this album was acquired by Naxos and reissued as the kickoff to an apparently complete cycle of George Rochberg's piano music. The entire album is devoted to a single 70-minute work, "Circles of Fire," and it's something of a summation of the life's work of this American composer, who stirred outrage when he bucked the serialist orthodoxy and returned to tonality with his "String Quartet No. 3" in 1972. He never completely abandoned atonal procedures, often using them in contrast with tonal passages, and he favored stylistic collages. "Circles of Fire for two pianos," commissioned by the Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo heard here, develops these ideas on a large scale. The work's 15 movements include techniques ranging from twelve-tone music (in the "Canonic Variations," track 3) to quotation (the "Fuga a sei voci," track 13, is closely based on a Bach fugue), to aleatoric devices (in the "Nebulae," track 7, and "The Infinite Ricercar," track 10, whose main polyphonic material may be repeated as many times as the players desire). Rochberg sets the formal procedures against unusually violent music, augmented by manipulation of the tension between the two piano parts, in the longer movements, creating an almost Mahlerian canvas of musical impulses. Simple chordal or melodic pieces entitled "Solemn Refrain" provide a framework, and each end is further weighted by another pair of pieces called "Chiaroscuro." The Hirsch-Pinkas duo offers a completely confident reading of the work that is alert to small musical details, and the piece remains a signal accomplishment in Rochberg's oeuvre, which is holding its own among more immediately crowd-pleasing neo-Romantic music and showing that it was neither as conservative as its backers wanted it to be, nor nearly as simple as its detractors thought. Unusually good sound from a Dartmouth College concert hall is a plus, as are the dual liner notes (in English only), with an impressionistic little essay by Rochberg himself is followed by a technical discussion by pianist Evan Hirsch.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/23/2010
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943963128
catalogNumber:
8559631
Rank:
223455

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Circles of Fire, for 2 pianos  - George Rochberg  - Evan Hirsch  - Sally Pinkas  - Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo

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