Long-established as a leading voice among composers of his generation, Michael Hersch is also one of the great pianists of our time. While always few, his public performances have become increasingly rare. This special CD/DVD package includes Hersch performing his "Suite from The Vanishing Pavilions" live in concert, his first appearance as a pianist in New York City in over a decade. Also included is a film of that performance and a documentary, The Sudden Pianist, focusing on Hersch's music for the piano and his performance of it.Long-established as a leading voice among composers of his generation, Michael Hersch is also one of the great pianists of our time. While always few, his public performances have become increasingly rare. This special CD/DVD package includes Hersch performing his "Suite from The Vanishing Pavilions" live in concert, his first appearance as a pianist in New York City in over a decade. Also included is a film of that performance and a documentary, The Sudden Pianist, focusing on Hersch's music for the piano and his performance of it. Read less
Powerful and disturbing contemporary music, not fSeptember 19, 2013By Warren Harris See All My Reviews"This is a two disc set consisting of Michael Hersch performing his suite from The Vanishing Pavillions on CD, and then a DVD containing a short documentary film (~ 30 minutes) by Richard Anderson on Michael, as well him performing in concert (~ 60 minutes). The first line of the liner notes, in large letters, says Beauty, Terror, and Stillness and that is absolutely correct, in that I felt all of those things when listening the work. The Vanishing Pavillions is essentially Hershs emotional responses to various fragments of the poetry of Christopher Middleton expressed in music Mr. Hersch states that he could not express how he felt in words, and therefore had to do so in music. An example of such a fragment from Middleton: So the flashing knife will split Memory down the middle The liner notes provide more such fragments that inspired various movements of the work, but it is obvious from the get-go that this is not ordinary music. Rather, it is what you might expect if someone were to take complicated feelings and conflicting emotional responses and force them through a music making filter, the result being at times choppy, gorgeous, frightening, discordant, physical and unsettling. It took this listener multiple times to become comfortable taking this in and accepting my own reactions to what I was hearing. The documentary is interesting, as the workings of a composers mind is always something fascinating, given the nature of what they do. And Mr. Hersch is certainly gifted in this regard. When you watch his performance, it gives visual confirmation that physicality is definitely a component of what he does. The liner notes are well written and informative, and definitely assist in the comprehension of this work, while the information on Mr. Hersch helps tie everything together. If contemporary music is something that you want no part of, then this may not be something that satisfies you. For those that are contemporary music lovers, or those that are fans of Mr. Hersch, this is certainly something that would be of value to have in your collection. For me, while this will not spend lots of time in my CD/DVD players, I am very grateful to have had the experience to absorb this collection it game me lots to think about."Report Abuse
Sudden Pianist July 3, 2013By Henry A. See All My Reviews"Let me be clear, Suite from The Vanishing Pavillions is challenging to grasp for the non-music theorist: You may enjoy the technical virtuosity of Herschs piano playing, and you may find it to be a pleasing aesthetic. However, an hours worth of contemporary solo piano music can be difficult to digest for some. Fortunately, this collection comes with a video interview in which Hersch discusses his composition process while focusing on his complex relationship with the piano. Public performances by Hersch are something of a rarity, often with years between performances. In his interview with Anderson, Hersch discusses how he came to the piano and how he views it both as a composer and performer. He describes the relationship as one of both a constant source of joy and frustration, a challenge. As brilliant as Herschs performances are, what really struck me about this set was the interview director, Richard Anderson. Audience engagement is a current trend in the classical music world; orchestras and composers alike are trying to find new ways to educate their audiences. Pre-concert talks and taped interviews are now commonplace at many symphony concerts. With all of these new outreach initiatives, it is more important than ever for musicians to develop an audience friendly vocabulary for discussing music. Hersch understands this better than most. In the interview, he chooses his words carefully and deliberately so that any viewer can grasp their meaning. The language he uses does not oversimplify complex ideas; rather, it makes them more approachable. Suite from the Vanishing Pavillions is a towering achievement in Herschs musical output. Though this music may be difficult to grasp at the first or even second listen, the effort to do so will be rewarded with a firmer understanding of this fantastic piece of art. Both musicians and layman concert goers should enjoy Hersch technical prowess as a composer-performer and learn a valuable lesson about creating a meaningful musical dialogue."Report Abuse
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