Marc-André Hamelin
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Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
Label: Hyperion
Released: April 1, 1999
Catalog Num: CDA67077

The People United Will Never Be Defeated!

No 1, Theme: With determination

No 2 Variation 1: Weaving, delicate but firm

No 3 Variation 2: With firmness

No 4 Variation 3: Slightly slower, with expressive nuances

No 5 Variation 4: Marcato

No 6 Variation 5: Dreamlike, frozen

No 7 Variation 6: Same tempo as beginning

No 8 Variation 7: Tempo. Lightly, impatiently[

No 9 Variation 8: With agility; not too much pedal; crisp

No 10 Variation 9: Evenly

No 11 Variation 10: Comodo, recklessly

No 12 Variation 11: Tempo I. Like fragments of an absent melody – in strict time

No 13 Variation 12: [No tempo marking]

No 14 Variation 13: crochet = 72

No 15 Variation 14: A bit faster, optimistically

No 16 Variation 15: Flexible, like an improvisation

No 17 Variation 16: Same tempo as preceding, with fluctuations; much pedal

No 18 Variation 17: LH strictly minim = 36

No 19 Variation 18: crochet = 72

No 20 Variation 19: With energy

No 21 Variation 20: Crisp, precise

No 22 Variation 21: Relentless, uncompromising

No 23 Variation 22: crochet = 132

No 24 Variation 23: As fast as possible, with some rubato

No 25 Variation 24: crochet = 72

No 26 Variation 25: crochet = ca.84, with fluctuations

No 27 Variation 26: In a militant manner

No 28 Variation 27: Tenderly, and with a hopeful expression

No 29 Variation 28: crochet = 160

No 30 Variation 29: crochet = 144-152

No 31 Variation 30: crochet = 84

No 32 Variation 31: (crochet = 160)

No 33 Variation 32: [no tempo marking]

No 34 Variation 33: [no tempo marking]

No 35 Variation 34: [no tempo marking]

No 36 Variation 35: [no tempo marking]

No 37 Variation 36: [no tempo marking]

No 38, Cadenza: with optional improvisation

No 39, Theme: Tempo I

North American Ballads

No 3: Down by the riverside

No 4: Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues

To the uninitiated it is hard to describe the musical world of the American composer Frederic Rzewski. A pianist himself, Rzewski initially made a name for himself as a champion of the avant-garde, performing everything from Cage to Boulez. In the '70s his own music took a much more populist turn as his political beliefs drove him to find a much more approachable language, basically tonal and incorporating much quotation from popular music. It is music of this period that is recorded here.

The People United Will Never Be Defeated! 36 Variations on a Chilean protest song, has been likened to a twentieth-century 'Diabelli' Variations. This lengthy work is a tour de force of compositional and keyboard virtuosity, exhilarating and emotionally all-encompassing in its effect. Marc-André Hamelin has been playing the work for many years and has become one of its greatest champions, though the fact that many other pianists have also taken it up confirms that the piece is becoming a twentieth-century classic. Similiar in idiom are the two North American Ballads that complete the recital; once again popular melodies are woven into a fabric which in Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues includes the stunning representation of the mechanical noise of the mill.

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Updated: May-7-2015
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