But in a dramatic eleventh hour development a piano student from the Royal Northern College of Music who was in the audience stepped in with a new programme. Instead of Bernstein and Elgar, Condoleezza Rice, the UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and their respective retinues were treated to a masterpiece by an American composer for solo piano that incorporates popular songs. The composer was Frederic Rzewski and the work, which received a standing ovation, was the hour long The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
Frederic Rzewski (left) is a pianist and composer whose early reputation was made by championing the avant-garde, and performing everything from Cage to Boulez. In the '70s his own compositions took a much more populist turn as his political beliefs drove him to find a more accessible language. His best known works are tonal, and use quotations from popular music. The People United Will Never Be Defeated! comprises 36 Variations on the Chilean protest song ¡El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido!
If you don't know Rzewski's work it is well worth exploring. Here is a 3'21" sample from the highly recommended Hyperion recording played by Marc André Hamelin -
For a full review of the Liverpool concert follow this link.CDs featured in this article are available from Prelude Records. Audio sample from Hyperion. Image credits: Ms Rice - Moveleft.com, Rzewski - Sherpa.be. Image owners - if you do not want your picture used in this article please contact me and it will be removed. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
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