AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (b.1964): 6 Etudes, Eurythmy Etudes, ERIC MOE (b.1954): Dance of the Honey Monkey, CHARLES WUORINEN (b.1938): The Haroun Piano Book (First Recording), WAYNE PETERSON (b.1927): 4 Preludes.

Catalogue Number: 05T080

Label: Nimbus

Reference: NI 6360

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Four contemporary American composers proving that there is piano music to be written that is accessible while staying at some remove from the Grand Piano tradition and from conventional tonality. But not too far away; all the pieces have evocative titles, and when listening to them it is easy to link the title to the music, even if the idiom might not be what you'd first expect. Thomas' etudes pay homage to six composers she admires - Berio, Bartók, Messiaen, Boulez, Feldman and Rakowski (see 10L100) - by incorporating subtle hints at their styles without quoting or pastiching them, combined with clever inflections of the jazz idioms that often find their way into her music. The contrasting Eurythmy Etudes are appropriately full of color and movement. Peterson's Preludes are highly virtuosic, quite complex and intensely chromatic, but they derive accessibility from the way they cleverly subvert the expectations laid out by the titles - Valse Subliminale keeps suggesting a collage of waltz gestures, but it would take a certain amount of concentration to spot what is going on without the title's warning, and Caccia is full of canonic imitation, but in an atonal vocabulary , you have to think about it. Wuorinen's pieces are based on material from his opera after Salman Rushdie's fairytale novel. Because Wuorinen does not compromise his musical ideals, what we have here is sparkling, melodic 'light' Wuorinen, in attractive airy textures, yet no more tonal than is his habit. Moe's Dance, presented as an encore, is energetic and uses the piano in a more familiar manner than the other pieces here, but still manages to be harmonically surprising and rhythmically unpredictable. Lynn Raley (piano).


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