That great visionary Carl Nielsen wrote 'even if we reached agreement on the fact that now the best and most beautiful has been achieved, mankind thirsting more for life and adventure than perception, would rise and shout in one voice: give us something else, give us something new'. Today I celebrate two projects that bring something else and something new; both are for the piano and both from across the Atlantic.
First for 'something new', and an uplifting story from blogger Michael Strickland who be more familiar as a serial comment poster on the Path using his sfmike handle. Michael tells us that pianist Sarah Cahill, who is seen above, has commissioned eighteen composers to write music for the piano on the subject of peace. The project is called 'Sweeter Music' and the impressive list of contributors includes a refreshingly large number of women composers: Meredith Monk, Frederic Rzewski, Terry Riley, Yoko Ono, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Pauline Oliveros, Peter Garland, Kyle Gann, Paul Dresher, Carl Stone, Ingram Marshall, Jerome Kitzke, Phil Kline, Mamoru Fujieda, Larry Polansky, Michael Byron, The Residents, and Preben Antonsen. Michael has an interview and more pictures on his excellent website.
Pianist Andrew Rangell contributes the 'something else' with the new CD seen above which ranges from Gibbons and Tomkins to a piano arrangement of the fugue from Beethoven's Op. 131 String Quartet. It was Pablo Casals who said 'the art of interpretation is not to play what is written' and I'm happy to subscribe to that philosophy as well as hugely enjoying authentic instrument performances of early music. There have been many notable examples of early music played on the piano ranging from Glenn Gould's Sweelinck to Angela Hewitt's Couperin and Alexandre Tharaud's Rameau. The received wisdom that early music performed on the piano is a form of blasphemy is just more confirmation of the late Mauriccio Kagel's view that 'the norms of musical life are only social conventions'.
In A Bridge to Bach Andrew Rangell explores the connections between the music of the seventeenth century and that of Bach. Rangell returned to the concert platform in 1999 after a long absence due to a hand injury. He is a musical maverick and this is a wonderfully rewarding CD which comes from the independent Bridge Records. We desperately need more free-thinkers like Sarah Cahill and Andrew Rangell to give us something else - something new.
Read Antal Dorati and Jordi Savall on inner peace here.
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