Red Piano Blue Piano

Trout Week on Hammered: chamber music for multiple pianos

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Monday, April 04, 2011

A stroll through The Juilliard School's fourth floor strongly suggests that the more pianists, the more scales. Since it's Trout Week on WQXR, we're embracing these dense schools of scaly pianistic creatures by showcasing chamber music for piano ensembles.

So, this week, none of that build-to-Friday sequencing, we're leading with the crazy stuff. Right off the bat on Monday's Hammered! we have George Antheil's riotous and often uproarious Ballet Mecanique in a version for four pianos. This is a piece that, no joke, originally called for 16 player pianos, 2 regular pianos, 3 xylophones, at least 7 electric bells, 3 airplane propellers, siren, 4 bass drums, and 1 tam-tam. 

So there's that. Also on Monday we have Steve Reich's Six Pianos and the classic La Valse for two pianos by Maurice Ravel, a score that is perhaps only slightly easier to dance to than the Antheil.

The chamber music continues all week with some incredibly innovative repertoire: in addition to scores by Olivier Messiaen, Timothy Andres and Dace Aperans (his gorgeous Haiku for Two Pianos), listen in for Kevin Volan's Cicada for two pianos on Thursday, Tristan Perich's Duet on Friday, and on Wednesday, one of the all-time coolest works for two pianos (which includes a movement in hommage to Reich), Gyorgy Ligeti's Three Pieces.

Minor confession: this week isn't entirely devoid of a build-to-Friday programmatic trajectory. Tune in to a must-hear Friday presentation of the ultimate chamber work for multiple pianos (three to be exact, plus three harps and three percussionists), sur Incises by recent birthday boy Pierre Boulez!

What are your highlights for Trout Week?

Hosted by:

Conor Hanick
The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Comments [4]

gary gach, from up on the roof

kyle gann has a long composition for 2 pianos recorded by sarah cahill

Apr. 08 2011 10:49 AM

Wow, great ideas - thanks for the suggestions.

@hxy - Keep tuning in this week for performances of both the Reich and Feldman. I'd love to get an uncut performance of Triadic Memories programmed sometime soon. Will look into the Eastman and Spahlinger for upcoming programs - stay tuned.

@Susan - I don't know the van Veen but will locate a recording stat, sounds fitting. Glad you mentioned the Metcalf -- GREAT piece, definitely needs air time.

Thanks for tuning and keep the ideas coming!

Apr. 05 2011 03:45 PM
Susan Scheid from Hudson Valley

Then there's the compendium for by Jeroen van Veen of pieces for 2-6 pianos: Minimal Piano Collection, volume X-XX. A favorite of mine is John Metcalf's palindrome for 6 pianos, "Never Odd or Even" (misspelling deliberate to make the palindromic title).

Apr. 04 2011 08:27 PM

"Tune into a must-hear Friday presentation of the ultimate chamber work for multiple pianos (three to be exact, plus three harps and three percussionists), sur Incises by recent birthday boy Pierre Boulez!"

Julius Eastman's four piano works, like Gay Guerilla?
Morton Feldman's Five Pianos?
Steve Reich's Six Pianos?
Matthias Spahlinger's Farben der Fruhe, for seven pianos!?

Apr. 03 2011 09:30 PM

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