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  Simax Classics -
  PSC 1263
  George Crumb: Makrokosmos I & II - Ellen Ugelvik
  George Crumb: Makrokosmos I & II

Ellen Ugelvik (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 1

Review by gonzostick April 20, 2009 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Stunning recording of cornerstone of late 20th Century extended-piano-techniques cycle. The sound quality, is quite impressive with the amplified piano (no maker identified in the booklet) mixed equally between the front and back speakers, as if it were in the middle of one's listening room.

The pianist is able to match every one of the myriad moods of this music, which is optimally experienced live, as there is quite a bit of choreography required to play this music, on the keys, and inside the piano. The required whistling and singing effects are all spot on as is the pianist's ability to make the complete cycle hang together.

I still remember the first recording I heard of these pieces, the premiere on NONESUCH, by David Burge. The work became a staple of new music concerts in the 1970's. I even saw a performance that made the composer REALLY upset. The music is hand-notated in very unique graphical shapes to nearly force the performer to memorize the 24 pieces in the cycle. This pianist, who played them for the composer, had gone and xeroxed multiple copies of the score to do a paste-up version, which really pissed off the composer... It was VERY funny.

The dynamic range of the piano is amplified electronically, as required by the composer, so the dynamic extremes are really wonderful. BE WARNED, there are some prepared piano moments that will make you think you have seriously messed up a speaker cone: sheet of paper on the strings... Sounds just like a buzzing, busted speaker cone. This SACD runs the complete gamut of all possible colors from a modern grand piano. The amplification modifies the spectral balance of the piano, but also allows some incredibly detailed pickup of the playing techniques and resonances coming from the inside of the piano.

There is a video performance on MODE by Margaret Leng Tan on DVD, with film by Evan Chan, recorded in DTS 24-bit surround. Both of these should be in any serious collection of 20th Century piano masterworks.

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Works: 2  

George Crumb - Makrokosmos I
George Crumb - Makrokosmos II