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Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!

Rzewski / Kiilerich
Release Date: 12/11/2012 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9392   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frederic Rzewski
Performer:  Ole Kiilerich
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RZEWSKI The People United Will Never Be Defeated! Ole Kiilerich (pn) BRIDGE 9392 (59: 46)

This is an entirely new “take” on Frederick Rzewski’s pianistic masterpiece. Ole Kiilerich plays this music with an almost jazz-like swagger, the rhythms emerging with an insouciant syncopation worthy of Earl Hines. Not a single moment in even one of the variations sounds perfunctory or without interest: Every note is a living, breathing entity. In Kiilerich’s hands, the music becomes far less of a showpiece for the Read more performer. One becomes intensely wrapped up in the message of the composer.

Reading through the liner notes, one understands why. Andrzej Dutkiewicz describes Kiilerich as “a highly regarded Danish pianist and improvisor ” (italics mine), which explains a lot. When one is used to improvising, Rzewski’s highly technical and complex creation can be played in the style of “free jazz,” despite the fact that it’s written out. Elsewhere in the notes, the pianist himself mentions that when he first heard this piece he “knew by instinct that it would follow me for the rest of my career.” Indeed, he has become so wrapped up in it that he usually performs it in concert without the score, from memory, and apparently each performance is a cathartic experience for him. It’s easy to tell this from the recording, which is one of exceptional intensity and enthusiasm, and from the wonderful, jazzy style. It might also be mentioned that he is a master of dynamic shadings, able even to produce subtle gradations of sound within a bar and sometimes within a single note.

Kiilerich’s performance is right up there with Ralph van Raat’s magnificent version on Naxos 8.559360. If I continue to lean towards van Raat, it is because his disc is less expensive than this one and also includes a second piece, the “Winnsboro Cotton Mill” from North American Ballads. Insofar as performance quality goes, Kiilerich has the full measure of this music under his fingertips. A good disc!

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Variations (36) for Piano on "The People United will Never be Defeated!" by Frederic Rzewski
Performer:  Ole Kiilerich (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 It's all about the journey April 12, 2013 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "The People United begins and ends with the same simple folk tune -- but this is a work that's more about the journey then the destination. After hearing it transformed by Lisztian piano flourishes, complex counterpoint, atonal reinterpretations, aleatoric passages, and extended piano techniques, the listener gains new appreciation for this tune when it returns intact in the final movement. The variations of The People United have a rhythm and flow to them that pulls the listener along. The each of the six sections have a feeling of arrival, although only in the final movement does one get a sense of completeness. In the liner notes pianist Ole Kiilerich writes, "I had this odd feeling that the piece was written just for me to fulfill my conception of musical expression and I felt an urge to instantly dig deeply into this overwhelming piece of art right away..." That compulsion works to his benefit. The performance captured in this recording is engaging and exciting. Kiilerich has indeed made this composition his own." Report Abuse
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