- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The subtitle of this CD pretty much conveys exactly what you get: "Piano Music by American Women Composers". At the time of the recording of this CD, all the composers were still alive, and 5 years later, that is still happily the case. All of these are first recordings, and pianist Max Lifchitz does a fine job throughout, treated to decent recording quality.
The 2 works by Marilyn J. Ziffrin are the most recent on the album, "Moods" (2005) and the Piano Sonata (2006). Paradoxically, however, they are perhaps the most accessible works on the album, even though none of the selections are all that harmonically challenging, at least to my ear. Elizabeth Bell's "Arecibo Sonata" (1968, revised 2005) is also very much in that accessible vein. Perhaps it's because Ziffrin and Bell are the oldest composers on the album, and thus their harmonic idiom reflects their initial time of maturation.
Rami Levin's "Passages" (2002) strikes me as the one work on the album that has the common problem in contemporary music of too many notes to achieve the effect that could have occurred with fewer notes. Relatively speaking, this work is the "crunchiest" on the album, but given the overall accessibility of the works here, that's not a huge stretch outwards. Rain Worthington gets the lioness' share of works on the album, 4 separate compositions, and provides her own brief commentaries in the liner notes. IMHO, I'm not sure I got the same impressions that she meant to convey in words, and there is a certain similarity of style throughout them, with the exception of "Dark Dreams" (2001), which has a certain block-like monolithic sense about it.
Personal reservations aside, it's always nice to see a classical recording that goes off the beaten path, which this one certainly does. For people interested in accessible contemporary American piano music, regardless of composer gender, this is worth a listen.