Bolcom: Piano Music / Finehouse, Olevsky, Oppens, Taylor
William Bolcom was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his 12 New Etudes for piano, and his music has always revolved around works for the instrument on which he still performs as a soloist and accompanist. This collection of mostly premiere recordings reveals student pieces that negotiate twentieth century musical battles between the avant-garde influences of Boulez and Messiaen and Bolcom’s love of Schumann, as well as later work that embraces the 1960s ragtime revival and draws inspiration from friends and colleagues in every phase of his distinguished six-decade career. Elegantly performed by friends of the composer, this wide-ranging program is summed up by Bolcom as ‘cleaning house’ in the Charles Ives tradition.
Anyone suitably provoked should accordingly investigate this set, each of whose discs is well planned as a standalone sequence. Piano tone is clear but never clinical and Bolcom’s own notes, informative and laconic, complement his music unerringly.
This extremely useful set gathers together all of Bolcom’s piano music that you don’t already have in your collection. There are many delights here, and some fascinating revelations about the development of this most versatile pianist-composer who has always resolutely refused to respect musical genre boundaries. …There are two delicious rags, separated by almost forty years, student pieces that show the composer coming to terms with the avant-garde polemics of the 1950s and 60s, and a concert paraphrase of an operatic aria in the popular ‘Neapolitan Song’ style.
-- Records International
What was originally mooted, by Klaus Heymann of Naxos, as a complete retrospective of the piano music of William Bolcom, eventually materialized as this 3-CD collection of works not easily available elsewhere. The compositions span 1956-2012, with music from his teen years to the present day, so you get a good overview of works from all periods of his career. Four pianists were engaged for the task, all with connections to the composer. Most of the recordings were set down in New York in 2014.
The music has been beautifully recorded with an attractively clear piano sound in each case. The excellent accompanying liner notes provide personal reflections and background to the pieces played, by the composer himself. On my first encounter with Bolcom’s music, I would offer a warm recommendation for this most enjoyable release.
-- MusicWeb International
Release Date: December 01, 2017
Catalog Number: 8559832-34
Composer: William Bolcom
Performer: Christopher Taylor, Constantine Finehouse, Estela Olevsky, Ursula Oppens