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The Eleventh Finger / Jenny Lin

Release Date: 08/01/2006 
Label:  eOne   Catalog #: 7670   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  György LigetiStefano GervasoniRandy NordschowJames Tenney,   ... 
Performer:  Jenny Lin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The title of this CD will be off-putting to those who disdain the display of virtuosity for its own sake. It is true, by the pianist Jenny Lin’s own admission, that the technical bravura of these pieces was an attraction, as it can be for most musicians. She repeats the charming story of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’s hearing a recording of the blues master Robert Johnson for the first time and disbelieving that it was only one guitarist playing. Johnson was a wizard of a guitarist, but he was, above all else, an artist of intense expressiveness and humanity. Likewise, this delightful album appeals on a purely musical level at all times, and Lin’s playing never sounds showy, even as it is heroically athletic.

Read more varied program is bound together by a kind of enlightened whimsy. The longest work on the program is the Nosturnos of Brazilian-born Arthur Kampela. It is a big work in every sense of the word—in shape, stylistic variety, and dynamic scope. Although not without repose, the overall effect of the piece is happily noisy. Another “big” work is Stefano Gervasoni’s Studio di disabitudine, which runs for about 15 minutes, sounding like a confused poet wandering about on the face of the moon. Gervasoni, who was born in 1962, follows the sort of bemused nihilism that has run through the Italian avant-garde (think Fellini, or better yet, an atonal Nino Rota). Randy Nordschow, the youngster of the bunch at 37, is similarly aloof. Detail of Beethoven’s Hair was not inspired by the music of Beethoven, as far as I can discern, but by an extreme close-up of a portrait of the composer. Here is another walk on the moon, again by a composer with solid technical skills and imagination.

The rest of the program belongs to a more mature group of pioneers and experimenters. The late Claude Vivier provides the most energetic music here, bordering on hysteria at times, but built upon carefully shaped structure. Ligeti is getting a heap of attention as the musical world observes his passing in June of this year. The three Études give us a clue to his greatness; the music is concise, delightful, and distinctive. The American iconoclast composers James Tenney and Elliot Sharp share a fascination with the very nature of sound, as these two works demonstrate. Sharp is not so “in your face” here as he can be, and uses the computer to find remarkable new voices from the piano. Tenney has fashioned a tribute to Steve Reich, using a tape loop to transform a simple rocking pattern into a fantastic kaleidoscope of colors and microtones from an extremely limited pitch range. Tenney and Sharp, in their unique ways, make music that is so audacious that it makes people want to scream, but patience and continued exposure can be rewarded with new worlds, and even revelation.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Etudes (4) for Piano, Book 3: no 16, Pour Irina by György Ligeti
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
Etudes (4) for Piano, Book 3: no 17, A bout de souffle by György Ligeti
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
Etudes (4) for Piano, Book 3: no 18, Canon by György Ligeti
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
tudio di Disabitudine for Piano and Pop system by Stefano Gervasoni
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Italy 
Detail of Beethoven's Hair by Randy Nordschow
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002 
Chromatic Canon by James Tenney
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Shiraz by Claude Vivier
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977 
Suberrebus by Elliott Sharp
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005; New York, USA 
Nosturnos by Arthur Kampela
Performer:  Jenny Lin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Brazil 
Notes: Composition written: Brazil (1992 - 2003). 

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