This is an “All Riley” album. How did that idea come about, and when?
Keisuke: We always wanted to play all of his piano-four-hand pieces, since four years ago when we started with “Cinco de Mayo.” We immediately felt a deep connection to this piece and wanted to explore everything else there was. I think an All Riley album makes sense, because the five piano-four-hand pieces from The Heaven Ladder, Book 5 commissioned by Sarah Cahill are all very different from each other, and so are the other four pieces on the CD.
When did you first play a Terry Riley piece, either as a soloist, with other ensembles, or together as ZOFO? Can you talk about the emotions you felt the first time you played Riley?
Keisuke: “In C” with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players was my first Riley piece. I was really astonished how different his piano-four-hand music was from it. Eva: For me it was “Cinco de Mayo.” We had a lot of fun with it right away. How did your collaboration with Terry Riley begin? Who approached whom? Eva: We’re very grateful to our friend Katrina Krimsky for connecting us with Terry. She’s very close to the Rileys and has been playing the “pulse” for “In C” over many years. She gave us the score for “Cinco de Mayo” after one of our first ZOFO concerts and told Terry about us. We sent him a concert recording of “Cinco” and he then emailed us, saying how happy he was with it. He also sent us the four remaining pieces from The Heaven Ladder, Book 5. We were in heaven!
Total time: 01:09:21
|Original Recording Format|
Sono Luminus Studio, Boyce Virginia
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||January 1, 2016|
ZOFO is the San Francisco piano four-hands duet of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi. (The name stands for “20-finger orchestra.”)
Zimmermann and Nakagoshi have been rightly lauded for their chemistry and their glittering, precise high-register work, and that is in evidence once again here on this collection of short pieces by the father of minimalism, Terry Riley. But an even stronger attraction is the chance to sample some of the music Riley has written in the years since his epochal In C.
Riley has been somewhat neglected in comparison with Philip Glass, John Adams (Composer), and Steve Reich, each of whom made moves in the direction of the classical grand tradition. Some are original four-hand works, some were arranged by ZOFO from string quartet pieces (premiered by the Kronos Quartet), and one work, the delightful Praying Mantis Rag, commissioned by the duo from the octogenarian composer. The title of that suggests the quality that links most of the works on the album: Riley forged a quite unusual fusion between minimalism and vernacular rhythms. A work like the 13-minute Etude from the Old Country has the monumental, abstract quality for which Riley was famous, and at which ZOFO excels. But it’s a toe-tapper and they get this quality too. Highly recommended.
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