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    Vincent Persichetti – Piano Sonatas 10 and 11

    Vincent Persichetti - Piano Sonatas 10 and 11

    First, there was Vincent van Gogh. Then came Vincent Price. Following him was Vincent Furnier. And now there’s Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987)–the latest in a long line of distinguished Vincents, each of whom has made a huge impression on the worlds of art, music and film. Just kidding. This here Piano Sonatas 10 and 11 CD is a reissue of an old LP that collects three works for solo piano composed in the 1950s and ’60s, but not recorded until the 1980s. The liner notes describe Persichetti as “one of the major figures of American music of the 20th century.” Really? Before this CD was released, I had never even heard of his name before. No matter, let’s get down to the music.

    Sometimes, this stuff sounds almost normal, but salted with weird little flourishes. To be sure, this is not gentle piano music to play in the background at a polite dinner party. It has a mind of its own, and a loud mouth that demands close listening. Many different songs co-exist together inside each piece and unfurl one right after another on an endless path full of dimes, stopping and starting right back up again, no problem. From lyrical flourishes to pounding dissonance, everything’s here, except any kind of overt melody or groove. In general, difficult music is made even more so when it’s composed for a solo instrument. Since this music employs the piano, it’s not a stretch to imagine Conlon Nancarrow fans getting into it, although it’s nowhere near as complex. Hell, it can’t be, as no human so far has been able to match the speed and multiple tempos that Con’s player piano can achieve. Someday, one of them thar transhumans may be able to pull it off. Until then, it’s time to cue up Piano Sonatas, throw an arm around the ghost of Persichetti and enjoy being a good, old-fashioned regular human.

    Label: Starkland Catalog Number: R-3016 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 15 Total Time: 47:39 Country: United States Released: 2010 More: All Music, Discogs, Bruce Duffie, Naxos, Vincent Persichetti Society, Wikipedia

    Text ©2011 Arcane Candy

    One response to “Vincent Persichetti – Piano Sonatas 10 and 11”

    1. Thanks for the review and exploring this music. It’s probably accurate that Wikipedia labels Persichetti as “one of the major figures of American music of the 20th century,” when you consider his accomplishments in addition to composing. He wrote a significant book on 20th Century Harmony, and over decades of teaching his students included Philip Glass, Thelonious Monk. Peter Schickele (P.D.Q. Bach), Richard Danielpour, James DePreist, Einojuhani Rautavaara, many others.

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