Himalayan Miscellany

– Go here to view the trailer for the remarkable “Scriabin in the Himalayas” project featuring pianist Matthew Bengston.

– Music by Paul Moravec and Ethan Iverson can be heard in this NPR feature on pianist Anthony de Mare‘s new album of Sondheim re-imaginings.

– Read the speeches given by Michael Chabon, Terrance McKnight, and Yehudi Wyner at The MacDowell Colony’s Medal Day celebration in honor of the late Gunther Schuller here.

Fishy Pianism

The Poisson Rouge calendar for November looks like a festival of new music piano superstars:

November 9: Marilyn Nonken plays music by Chilean-American composer Miguel Chuaqui, and Frederic Rzewski’s monumental set of variations on a Chilean song of resistance, The People United Will Never Be Defeated! According to the listing on the club’s website, the piece is by “Rzewski/Iverson”. I assume this means that Marilyn has asked Ethan Iverson to create something for her to play at the moment in the score where Rzewski invites the pianist to play an improvisation. If this is what she has done, it is a very smart idea: a non-improvising pianist asking an improvising pianist for input on a piece that is almost entirely notated, except for one spot near the end of the piece. It will very interesting to see what Iverson comes up with.

November 14: Aki Takahashi plays Feldman, Xenakis, and Peter Garland, with the JACK Quartet. I met Aki in 1977 when I was playing in the Gaudeamus Competition for Interpreters of Contemporary Music. I think she was there as an accompanist, I no longer recall. I do remember sitting with her and looking over her copy of Xenakis’s Everyali, (see an interesting essay about that piece here). I still have her three LP set of 20th century piano music (on the CP2 label – out-of-print – and with program notes by Paul Zukofsky – much interesting material at what I take to be Mr. Zukofsky’s site.) – Webern, Berio, Boulez, Stockhausen, Xenakis, etc., and a lot of contemporary Japanese composers. More recently she is known as a champion of Feldman and Xenakis – certainly a nicely contrasting pair.

November 17: Gloria Cheng plays a mostly French-oriented program: Messiaen (the early 8 Preludes), Boulez, Saariaho, Adès, Vivier, and Dan Godfrey. I earlier wrote about Cheng here. Except for the Messiaen, all  the pieces listed are new to me, and, indeed, there are several New York premieres.

November 30: Anthony de Mare does a program of music for speaking pianist, in connection with a CD release. Music by  Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Jerome Kitzke, Derek Bermel, and, again, Frederic Rzewski, which brings us full circle.