Conlon Nancarrow - Studies for Player Piano, 5 CD?s and 140-page booklet
booklet writer: Amirkhanian, Charles
booklet writer: Tenney, James
interpreter: Nancarrow, Conlon
composer: Nancarrow, Conlon
"It is a dazzling experience to listen to this whole body of work - an experience not unlike the one many of us had some thirty years ago when we heard the first recordings of the complete works of Webern," writes composer James Tenney in his 1988 introduction to Conlon Nancarrow's "Studies for Player Piano".
All five volumes of Nancarrow's prize-winning recordings, with their impossible sounding and acrobatic complexities, in one CD package: 5 CDs with 140-page booklet in slipcase with the new WERGO design and more unpublished photographs.
"The 'Studies for Player Piano' by the American Conlon Nancarrow (born in 1912) show in a playful and virtuoso manner that the use of a mechanical piano need not lead to the automation of the music nor to a flow production by the composer. The CD-set is part of the first complete record documentation of the highly original life-work of a great entertaining musical outsider of our century, a gentle loner."
(The jury of the German Record Critics' Award on the occasion of awarding the CD-set "Conlon Nancarrow: Studies for Player Piano" the International Record Award, Frankfurt 1991)
- CD 1:
- Volume 1: Studies No. 3, 20, 41, 44
- CD 2:
- Volume 2: Studies No. 4, 5, 6, 14, 22, 26, 31, 32, 35, 37, 40, Tango?
- CD 3:
- Volume 3: Studies No. 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 15, 21, 23, 24, 25, 33, 43, 50
- CD 4:
- Volume 4: Studies No. 9, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 34, 36, 46, 47
- CD 5:
- Volume 5: Studies No. 42, 45, 48, 49
To speak of Conlon Nancarrow's music for player piano shouldn't be mistaken to suggest some still broader range of musical output of which the composer's piano rolls are but a subset. Quite the contrary: Nancarrow's meticulous scores--generally unplayable, at least by most primates--are the body of his life's work. This five-CD set contains dozens upon dozens of his studies, each a fairly self-contained exploration of tempo, pitch, rhythm, counterpoint--and the interaction between pairings of those core musical categories. Certainly, this is "difficult" music, hard on the ears, off-kilter in a manner that both demands attention and may repulse listeners unfamiliar with experimental composition. After initial exposure, this collection is the sort of thing that sits on the shelf for some time, before your imagination breaks its internal code. Once that code is broken, though, the vast life inherent in this "mechanical" music becomes almost intoxicating. On some of the quieter pieces, the piano's tone is similar to that of a harpsichord. On others, the palimpsest of ragtime is undeniable. Yes, some pieces seem overly chaotic, but spend some time with them and you'll see, in your mind's eye, dozens of hands working the keys. --Marc Weidenbaum