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musical postmodern solidarity with the Left,
This review is from: Rzewski Plays Rzewski (Audio CD)
Frederic Rzewski grew within the ideologic largesse of the New Left, a product of the rebellions in Europe in the late Sixties.Living as a self-imposed exile in Rome Rzewski recalls the thousands of demonstrators in the streets. Then he was performing with like minded composers in the improvisation ensemble MEV, much like AMM in London.Although MEV has a more catholic constitution,in that it has had a greater diversity of personnel,and stylistic trangressions than AMM. It was these formative realms where Rzewski developed a language of the piano, although he claims he had never developed or nurtured what can be referred to as a style. Yet his works have been animated and magnetized toward the radical political dimensions and expressions of this century,which has served admirably his choice of subject matter and content. He studied composition with all the right creators for a successful career, Babbitt, Piston, Sessions, he even spent time with Carter in Berlin with the latters penumbral Piano Concerto;yet none of this experience left any enduring marks on his creativity. His compositions admirably exploit particular genres of the post-war avant-garde mixed and blended with folk orientations, with a wonderful imagination for the problematics of the accessible. Yet his choice of timbre, of density, of complexity, its cacoethes (desires) is always the surface yet from an informed realm of the technical achievements of the post-war avant-garde.
He found fertile ground in Europe where he established residence full time since the late Sixties, taking on a Professorship in Liege.
Rzewski's piano language can be traced to his experiences with improvisation as well as the formative years spent working with Stockhausen,on the various Klavierstuck, also the piano repertoire of Cage, and Boulez. Some distance however is now discernable within postmodern's force fields, in that his music has an objectivity about it similar to Stravinsky,like his desire is merely to manipulate materials,folk songs and timbral desnities. Whatever he performs either piano solo from the repertoire of the avant-garde, or works where the pianist recites texts simultaneously, as those of Chritian Wolff and Dave Smith, Rzewski brings a powerful sense of projection fused animated with his improvisatory skills. He has been known to improvise whole sections within the performance of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata,as well as Cardew's "We Sing For The Future".
Here in one place with this Box Set there are many works not previously recorded as "The Road".His equally effective,inciting "Piano Concerto" based on a American labor tune "long steel rail" should have been included here.