Super Size Me
Structural behemoths and compositional supertankers for solo piano
Monday, February 28, 2011
This week two is better than one and less is not more. Taking its programmatic cue from Texas and John Luther Adams, Hammered! presents five days of piano works that embrace the "bigger-is-better" philosophy.
As a nod to Nadia Sirota's full presentation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Saint Matthew Passion (he may be dead, but, really is there anything bigger and more unequivocally awesome than the SMP?!), Monday's Hammered! -- in a super-sized two-hour program beginning at 10 AM/PM -- pairs two gargantuan sets of variations by Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Rzewski.
We'll first hear old Ludwig's Diabelli Variations opus 120, performed by Alfred Brendel (who said the Diabelli was the "greatest of all piano works"). After that we'll turn to an equally colossal work based on the Beethoven Diabelli, Rzewski's People United Will Never Be Defeated. You'll hear the work performed by its commissioning pianist, the indefatigable Ursula Oppens, who for the 1976 premiere played both the Beethoven and Rzewski in a single Kennedy Center performance.
Rounding out the week are oversized works by Anne Southam, Timothy Andres, Charles Ives, Samual Barber, and on Friday -- as prep for the New York Philharmonic's Hungarian Echoes festival -- a trio of piano concertos by Bela Bartok, Gyorgy Kurtag and Gyorgy Ligeti.
Q: What's the longest piece of music you've heard live? Pretty good one here: Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories (epic).