CONLON NANCARROW (1912-1997) : Complete Studies for Player Piano. Bösendorfer Grand Piano with Ampico Player Piano Mechanism (1927) Fischer Grand Piano with Ampico Player Piano Mechanism (1925) (Vol. 3, 6-10; Vol. 4, 3-4, 10-12) 5CDs

Catalogue Number: 09Z025

Label: MD&G

Reference: 6452272-2

Format: CD

Price: $60.98

Description: "My Soul is in the Machine — A Year of Work for Five Minutes of Music" Two decades ago Conlon Nancarrow was almost entirely unknown, but today he is regarded as one of the great innovators. For György Ligeti he was even the most important composer of the second half of the twentieth century: “For me it’s the best music of any today living composer.” Born in Texarkana, Texas, in 1912, Nancarrow early turned to jazz; he learned to play the jazz trumpet and played in bands and school orchestras. Although he studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory for a short time and took some private lessons from Slonimsky, Sessions, and Piston, Nancarrow described himself as a musical autodidact. The twenty-five-year-old’s political convictions led him to fight in Spain against the fascist Franco regime. When two years later he escaped from the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War and returned to the United States, he was forced to realize that his political activities had made him persona non grata. He thereupon decided to emigrate to Mexico. It was there that Nancarrow, in complete musical isolation and unnoticed by the established music scene, created with relentless determination a magnificent oeuvre for an instrument that really no longer existed at all except in museums: the player piano. This medium made him independent of the manual and musical capacities of an interpreter and enabled him to realize his highly complex compositional ideas. The typical features of his works include fast shifts of meter, different meters in different parts, graded or continuous shifts of tempo or different tempi in vari- ous parts, including changes of tempo in contrary motion. An ostinato often serves as a “signpost” for complicated temporal sequences. For all this, Nancarrow never lapses into artificial innovation but again and again seeks to maintain a relation to what is natural. For example, in his tempo relations he employs the “natural ” constants e and pi or the vibration frequencies of the chromatic scale. In addition, he employs sound aggregates with up to two hundred beats per second as new compositional stylistic means; they transcend by far the resolution capacity of the human ear and are no longer perceived as a series of single tones but as new, previously unheard sounds. It speaks in favor of Nancarrow’s genius that, for all his mathematical conceptions, he creates a magnificent, extremely lively music. After almost forty years of isolation in Mexico, Nancarrow traveled to Europe in 1982, and his music was heard in Graz, Cologne, and Paris — on tape recorder because in all the world not a single suitable instrument was available for concert performances. Nancarrow’s works were first performed on an original Ampico-Bösendorfer grand piano at the Holland Festival in 1987 with the composer in attendance. In 1988, again with the composer in attendance, the series “Music and Machine — Nancarrow and Ligeti in Cologne” was presented. Bösendorfer Grand Piano with Ampico Player Piano Mechanism (1927) Fischer Grand Piano with Ampico Player Piano Mechanism (1925) (Vol. 3, 6-10; Vol. 4, 3-4, 10-12) 5CDs


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