It’s Hammered! time... multiplied. This week we celebrate the sound, resonance, textures, counterpoint, drive, volume and sheer hutzpah of music for two, four, five and six pianos. Music for multiple pianos portrays the vast layers of our strange world - from the sublime J.S Bach/Kurtag chorale two-piano arrangements and Julia Wolfe’s 1993 sextet My Lips From Speaking which wails Aretha Franklin’s "Think" riff to the ominous knife-edge poignance of David Lang’s Orpheus Over and Under.
The line-up includes both studio and live recorded performances by virtuosi composers and their phenomenal (often commissioning) performers. You will hear Alan Hovhaness’s Armenian roots in his Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, the Hungarian madness of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Three Pieces for Two Pianos, the suave elegance of John Novacek’s Three Rags for Two Pianos and Ned Rorem’s seductive lyricism in Six Variations for Two Pianos.
Philip Glass’s Four Pieces for Two Pianos (recorded live at the Ruhr Festival) is spread over four days, while Steve Reich’s rarely heard blissed-out Six Pianos (recorded live at The Kitchen in 1977) occupies Tuesday’s show. Mid-week is anchored by the infamous and unconventional Bela Bartok and his Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, his revolutionary quartet from 1937 now firmly and lovingly in the chamber repertoire. Pianist and composer (partnering with Ursula Oppens) Frederic Rzewski’s turbulent Crossing tops off Thursday’s session, but who better to end the week than the cult-figure Morton Feldman and his Five Pianos? It’s timeless, understated and simply mesmerizing.
Please join me for some stunning music. Hammered! multiplied covers the full range of powerful listening pleasure... and then some. Promise.