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Michael Sheppard Plays Crumb, Barber, Wild, Bolcom, Corigliano, Rodgers

Release Date: 11/13/2007 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907475   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Earl WildSamuel BarberRichard RodgersWilliam Bolcom,   ... 
Performer:  Michael Sheppard
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

AMERICAN FANTASIES Michael Sheppard (pn) HARMONIA MUNDI 907475 (71: 49)

WILD Fantasy on Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” BARBER (arr. Sheppard) The Daisies. St. Ita’s Vision. Nocturne, op. 13/4. RODGERS (arr. Hough) Carousel: Read more class="ARIAL12i"> The Carousel Waltz. The Sound of Music: My Favorite Things. BOLCOM Ghost Rags: Graceful Ghost. CRUMB Makrokosmos I: Dream Images. CORIGLIANO Etude Fantasy

Here is an all-American program designed to showcase this emerging artist of the American Pianists Association. The music is a pleasing mix of the familiar and the unusual, all played with spirit and skill. A large chunk of the music consists of virtuoso transcriptions of iconic American tunes, in both cases, as conceived by the concert pianists who first played them. Earl Wild is probably the most acclaimed Gershwin pianist since Oscar Levant, and before him, the composer himself. His transcriptions of the songs, and here, big chunks of the composer’s only opera, rank with Liszt’s work with Schubert material in terms of the remarkable ability to impose piles of notes on top of often-simple melodic structures without smothering the dramatic essence. Others, of course, would disagree, but as a means of edification, let us turn to exhibit B, Stephen Hough’s transcriptions of two Richard Rodgers tunes. They are ingenious, and fun to listen to, but in these cases, it is the filigree and distortion that draws our attention, with the famous melodies in a secondary role. It might be better to call these variations on Rogers, rather than transcriptions.

The balance of the program is consistently compelling, all music of imagination and subtle beauty. There is an interesting thematic connection among the works here by Barber, Bolcolm, Crumb, and Corigliano. Note, just in the titles, the use of words such as vision, ghost, and dream. These composers share a romantic bent, to be sure, but in the realm of mystery and the sublime. Sheppard conveys this otherworldly aura with impressive authority and conviction. Without access to the scores, it sounds as if the Barber is the most straightforward, the Corigliano the most demanding, but all of this music is dependent on a high degree of virtuosity, which Sheppard delivers handily. He was a student at Peabody of the amazing Leon Fleisher, who, once one of the most extraordinary concert pianists of his generation, is now surely one of the most important piano pedagogues of our time. This CD is a release in the American Piano Association series from Harmonia Mundi, so far, a fine project from a label that has distinguished itself as a home for excellent and adventuresome pianists.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Grand Fantasy for Piano after Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" by Earl Wild
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Length: 27 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Songs (3), Op. 2: no 1, The Daisies by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Michael Sheppard. 
Hermit Songs, Op. 29: no 3, St Ita's Vision by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952-1953; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Michael Sheppard. 
Four Songs, Op. 13: 1. Nocturne by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937-1940 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Michael Sheppard. 
Carousel: Waltz by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Stephen Hough. 
The Sound of Music: My favorite things by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Stephen Hough. 
Ghost Rags (3): The Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USA 
Length: 4 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Etude Fantasy by John Corigliano
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Length: 17 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Makrokosmos I, for amplified piano: Dream Images (Love-Death Music). Gemini by George Crumb
Performer:  Michael Sheppard (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1972; United States of Ame 
Length: 5 Minutes 3 Secs. 

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