Two's Company: Piano Pairings

Keyboard Works that Complement, Converse and Commingle

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Monday, October 24, 2011

So much exhilarating music heard this month! -- swarms of young composers, hours of new repertoire and not but a few exciting Webcasts. But for this week's programmatic sorbet on Hammered!, we're simplifying the hour to just two works per day and showcasing the beauty of musical compatibility (despite the occasional 100-plus year age gap). 

Some of the most intriguing programs are the simplest on paper: Jeremy Denk's pairing of Gyorgy Ligeti's two books of Etudes with Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations, or Ursula Oppens's mammoth juxtaposition of Ludwig van Beethoven's Diabelli Variations with Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated. Such bold presentations reveal immediate and jarring relationships that often pack a programmatic punch your more typical potpourri collection of works just can't achieve. 

Seriously. Like twins separated at birth, Beethoven and Charles Ives belong together (cue Friday's show with the Bagatelles, Op. 126 (super weird) and the Concord Sonata).

Pun intended here when I ask if the cord was ever cut between Olivier Messiaen and his student Tristan Murail (stream this one above).

Or perhaps you crave a more self-conscious, retrospective connection, which is the approach taken by Timothy Andres in his It Takes A Long Time To Become A Good Composer, a piece looking to Robert Schumann's Kreisleriana for inspiration (heard Tuesday in its rarely heard and very strange first version from 1838).

Rounding out the week are works by John Adams / David Lang and, wait for it, John Luther Adams / Elliott Carter.

Any recommendations?


Monday Playlist | Stream Above On-Demand Starting Monday


Olivier Messiaen: Oiseaux exotique (Exotic Birds) and Couleurs de la Cite Celeste (Colors Of The Celestial City) - Paul Crossley, piano; London Sinfonietta; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor 
Tristan Murail: Territoires de l'oubli - Marilyn Nonken, piano

Hosted by:

Conor Hanick
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Comments [1]

Michael Meltzer

Getting back to Fred Rzewski, I heard him a few years back when Jed Distler's group presented him in a recital of his piano series, "The Road." In his pre-recital talk, he said it was inspired by the Well-tempered Clavier.
Afterward, I went backstage and told him I was sorry I didn't really hear the Bach connection, but I thought that he had picked up exactly where the Debussy Etudes had left off, and done that magnificently.
He didn't argue, I guess because it was a compliment. However, that's the pairing I would suggest.

Oct. 27 2011 05:17 PM

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