Entries tagged with “piano”.

john Cage Etudes Boreales

John Cage Etudes Boreales / Harmonies / 10’40.3″ (Wergo)

John Cage used star charts as a source of randomness most famously in Atlas Eclipcalis, Etudes Australes, the Freeman Etudes and Etudes Boreales. This is in my mind an interesting technique for achieving a goal of integrating nature into ones composition. Cage of course most famously used the I Ching as his source of randomness, which is effect but basically he was using it to pick the numbers 1-64. You generate each line on its own and there are four states: solid, open, solid changing to open or open changing to solid.  After you work out each line you generally end up with two hexagrams, the starting one and the one you end up with after you have calculated the changing lines.  From there if you are practicing the divination, or are simply looking for a randomly selected philosophical message you consult the text and the various commentaries. Now how you apply this to composition is up to the composer and Cage used many different methods to do so.  This really was Cage’s art and genius; he set up systems that could take a known range of randomness and produce highly successful results.

Excerpt from the piano part of Etudes Breales

Overlaying barlines onto star charts and using the stars as notes (with magnitude as duration of the note perhaps) is really far more random and cedes far more control from the composer.  There are a lot of stars and thus these pieces are a lot more dense.  When Cage composed these works (the 1970s) he began to tackle a number of areas of composition he’d previously avoided such as harmony and virtuosistic pieces (for non david Tudor musicians).  Etudes Boreales is an example of a virtuosistic that in this particular recording doesn’t necessarily sound so.  The piece is for ‘cello and/or piano and this disc contains both a solo ‘cello version and a version for solo ‘cello and piano.  The piano part is actually a percussion score and it is the ‘cello part has all all aspects of the sound making meticulously notated including pitch, duration, articulation, color and dynamics.

Etudes Boreales is played twice on this disc, once for a percissionist  using a piano and the second for ‘cello solo and piano solo. The first version is the percussion version and I have to say this is fantastic.  The sounds are mostly short events that come in and out of spaces of varyin lengths (though none of epic length).  The sounds come from all over: hitting of one to many keys, tapping, rubbing, hitting the body of the piano, striking, rubbing, etc the strings, using mallets on the metal frame and so on. There are sounds that are muted and sounds that overlap with other sounds, use of the pedal for sustain and decay, sounds so faint as to barely register and achingly resonant chords. The video above is the first two of the four parts of the piece performed by Mark Knoop who is the pianist on this recording, so that is very representative of the disc under discussion here and nice to see as well as hear it performed. Below is a video of Knoop playing parts three and four to allow for a complete performance to be viewed.

The second version is for two solist playing the piece simultnously: ‘cello and percussionist playing a piano.  All of the charms of the previously discussed version are present, though Knoop seems to be mixing up the gestures. The ‘cello is a perfect counterpoint to this; often played high and with skittering attacks it could be another percussionist. But the longer tones, the rich tonality of the lower register of ‘cello, when these come in, the short bursts from the piano sink into them and the interpenetrations give life to a unique soundworld that is equal parts the two instruments. The two versions of this piece on this disc are worth it alone, but it also contains four more pieces for ‘cello and piano.

He counted the number of notes in a given voice of the piece [four-part choral music by William Billings -ed.], and then used chance to select from these. Supposing there were fourteen notes in a line, chance operations might select notes one, seven, eleven, and fourteen. In such a case, Cage would take the first note from the original and extend it until the seventh note (removing all the intervening notes); all the notes from the seventh to the eleventh would be removed, leaving a silence. Then the eleventh note would be extended to the fourteenth, followed by another silence. Each of the four lines thus became a series of extended single tones and silences. This was the version that Cage settled upon:

“The cadences and everything disappeared; but the flavor remained. You can recognize it as eighteenth century music; but it’s suddenly brilliant in a new way. It is because each sound vibrates from itself, not from a theory. . . . The cadences which were the function of the theory, to make syntax and all, all of that is gone, so that you get the most marvelous overlappings.”

-James Pritchett, from his Introduction to the Music of John Cage

This disc also contains three of the 44 harmonies from Apartment House 1776 (XXVII, XXIV and XIII) which is one of Cage’s musicirucus pieces in which many different types of events can take place simultaneously: 44 Harmonies, 14 Tunes, 4 Marches and 2 Imitations. He also stipluated that you can play any fraction of these and in the case of this disc they play three of the harmonies  for  ‘cello and piano.  The entirety of  Apartment House 1776 utilizes chance operations in the form of the I Ching in contrast to the star charts of Etudes Boreales. The disc opens with XXVII and its is short beautiful piece whose spare lines come in and out, widely spaced with that rich haunting ‘cello tone in almost transparent harmony with soft piano chords. Littlle bits of almost melody come in and out and there are the occaisonal burst of activity and of course short silences. The longest of these is less soft and has these real start stop feel. As if a player begins to play a melody and part way through stops and thinks a bit and then starts up. Which considering how it was composed makes perfect sense. Again the piano is more background and they tone of the two instruments creates a nice interplay. The final of the harmonies played here, XIII (which is also the 13th track on the disc) is almost a middle ground between the two. Shorter again, with more space than either of the previous, it has the stop and start feel of the middle one but with longer space more akin to the initial tracks.  I’m not much of a fan of the full on Apartment House 1776, but I really like these harmonies played in in this gentle, spacious style.

Friedrich Gauwerky

This middle track on the disc is an excerpt of  26’1.1499′” for a String Player of which cellist Friedrich Gauwerky chose to play the first 640.3 seconds of, thus giving the piece the title of 10’40.3′ (this as per Cage’s instructions on ways one can play the piece). The earliest piece on this disc and its construction utilized a third and pre-I Ching method of randomness: imperfections in paper. This method is utilized to generate highly specific locations on the strings of the instrument which allows for the pitch to be sounded. There also seems to be instructions for noises to be made of which I haven’t found much by way of specifics for. But  Gauwerky here chooses, for at least some of them, vocalizations which frankly I find to be one of the most dated of modernist classical cliches. The little yelps and guttural exclamations always sound the same as if the intense concentration of realizing the music just doesn’t allow for enough attention to be placed on this other activity. No matter when I’ve seen or heard it done and it is a string quartet trope in particular I’ve never liked it. Thus this is I’d say the only dud track here but really it’s 10 minutes doesn’t detract from the rest of the disc at all.

Knoop and Gauwerky are both well known and respected players of a wide variety of new music, so their top notch performance here is no surprise. The recording quality is pretty amazing as well, super transparent and close miked enough to pick up even the faintest sound. I didn’t hear any sounds of performer movement or breath so it really is just the sounds of the instruments and it really fills a room nicely. I’d been looking for a version of Etudes Borealis for while and this disc coming out this year fits the bill perfectly.

John Cage Two2 (Mode)
(Rob Haskins, piano I, Laurel Karlik Sheehan, piano II)

This album may be the album released this year that I listened to the most.  I’m somewhat of an insomniac and takes me a long time to get to sleep every night. So I listen to music when I go to bed and tend toward music that is not aggressive but also is interesting, deep and complex.  Sort of how Brian Eno initially defined ambient music, as music that can fade into the background without demanding your attention, but if you do grant it your attention it is fully engaging. Feldman for me is a favorite night time music, it fits this definition perfectly.  This disc of John Cage’s Two2 has served this function for me many times this, as well as being given a number of full attention listens on my main stereo.

John Cage’s music has become increasingly important to me ever since Vancouver New Music’s John Cage Retrospective, Begin Anywhere (my reports here). I’d of course checked out Cage before that, his music, ideas and thought are the philosophical and conceptual basis for the modern improvised (and composed) music I’m so interested in, but wasn’t really aware of the breadth of his compositions until this festival. The final night of the festival featured several of his late compositions that have collectively come to be known as the Number Pieces. The numbers refers to the fact that they are titled by the number of performers followed by a superscript of the number of the composition with that many performers. So Two2 refers to this being the second composition for two instruments, in this case two pianos.  The number pieces were all composed in between 1987 and his death in1992 and were his primary compositional interests in these last years.  The compositional technique that was the basis for the majority of these pieces was his Time Bracket notation(2.6) , in which the performers are giving time ranges in which to perform the notation pitches.  Two2 however was one of the exceptions to this in that instead of time brackets the performers are instructed to perform each measure of music at their own speed. However they are additionally instructed to not proceed to the next measure until both performers have completed the measure in question(2.10).

“As Cage explains in his performance notes for the work, his decision not to incorporate time brackets owed itself to a remark made by the soviet composer Sofia Gubaidulina, whom he had met in 1988 at the Third International Festival of Contemporary Music in Leningrad: “There is an inner clock.”  This gives the pianists the luxury of playing the piece at the speed that suits them best; in the finest performances, the freedom also allows them to discover surprising new relationships between the sounds — relationships unexpected even to them, no matter how much rehearsal time they spend preparing. ” Rob Haskins(2.10)

Another important feature of the number pieces was that they represented a rather late re-examination of harmony by John Cage.  Cage famously decried harmony: “I now saw harmony, for which I had never had any natural feeling, as a device to make music impressive, loud and big, in order to enlarge audiences and increase box-office returns.”. Instead he devoted his compositional efforts to focusing on sounds in and of themselves: “To Cage, listeners so conditioned would never hear sounds as sufficient in themselves–would not, in other words, be able to hear with the kind of open mind that he felt was essential(2.1). ” Though as Haskins points out his relationship with harmony was a bit more complex then is usually thought, it wasn’t until this final phase of his life that he really explored it. The time bracket notation allowed for a different approach to harmony one that was not a “device to make music impressive, loud and big” but instead  “means that there are several sounds . . . being noticed at the same time.” The flexibility of the time brackets, which themselves were create via chance operations meant that the piece varied in performance and these sounds “being noticed at the same time” were always subtly varied. The coincidence of sounds was indeterminate and thus the harmony wouldn’t fall into any recognizable patterns of development.

Two2 with its performer directed time scales also subverts traditional notions of harmony in the same ways: the coincidence of sounds are indeterminate and spaces  between sounds are disruptive. Structurally the piece was based on Renga, which was poetic style developed in China and refined in Japan(3). It is a collaborative form of poetry where each poet contributes a few lines following a proscribed structure. The initial three lines (hokku) became haiku, and follow that structure. The next poet then wrote two connecting lines (waki), following a 7-7 syllaibic structure. The third poet repeats the structure of the hokku and this continues unitl the desired length is written, often 36 stanzas (kasen renga).  In Japan there were many other rules surrounding content (as there is with haiku, which is almost always ignored in western attempts) which were obviously not a part of this piece. See the excellent Renga Wikipedia article for more on this poetic form.

“The essence of renga is in the idea of “change” (変化). Bashō described this as “newness (新み), and as “refraining from stepping back”. The fun is in the change, the new, the different, and the interesting verses of others.”(3)

Two2 follows the structure of Kaisen Renga, in that it has 36 five-measure sections (the three hokku lines plus the waki) each of which follows the syllabic constraints in number of musical events(2.9).  One of the primary aspects of Renga that the poets particularly enjoyed was the use of disparate elements in the poetic content, distinct sometimes dramatic change in subject between each of the hokku.  Cage captures some of this with interjections of dissonant seeming sounds an of course the disparities provided by the individual performers following their own time. 

The sounds are almost all soft, of a sedate and constant tempo but with these sudden, but never overly jarring, discontinuities. Maybe the occasional joining of chords will give a bit more volume or a couple of notes just out of step as if in a doubling.  This is perfect music to drift to sleep to – it won’t shock you into wakefulness but for those nights when sleep is far away it is constantly rewarding of your attention. The performance, beautifully captured on this recording, by Rob Haskins (who wrote the liner notes, which are essential reading) and Laurel Karlik Sheehan is impeccable. While no performance will ever be definitive due to the indeterminate nature of the piece, this performance is marvelous and an essential recording from this somewhat under-appreciated period of Cage’s compositions.

Cage’s number pieces, like the late work of Feldman, have an all enveloping almost dreamlike feel to them, yet they are filled with silence, dissonance, indeterminacy, unexpected harmonies and a diverse variety of sounds. It undermines all of the stereotypes of so called avant-garde music bringing all of Cages disruptive ideas to music of incredible richness and beauty. Those that dismiss Cage’s music as mere illustrations of his ideas have clearly not spent sufficient time with his later music, nor really understood his ideas.


1) John Cage database
2) Rob Haskins,
The Harmony of Emptiness: John Cage’s Two2 Two2 liner notes
3) Renga at Wikipedia
4) Mode’s Two2 page
  John Cage at Wikipedia
6) Number Pieces at Wikipedia

Stephen Drury performs Feldman and Rzewski

April 17th 2008 at the Chapel Performance Space
Seattle WA  USA

As I’ve mentioned previously this has really been a good year for 20th Century Composition in the Pacific Northwest. The string of great performances continued on with a rare visit of Stephan Drury to Seattle thanks to the Washington Composers Forums Transport Series. What with the Feldman Marathon and Frederic Rzewski’s recent performance, his selection of works from those composers seemed almost a continuation of those events. The concert had been listed on the Chapel’s blog for a while but with just the Rzewski piece listed. As this is such a great piece I had already planned to attend and when with a late update to the listing the Feldman piece was added it was just gravy.  Alas at the same time they also changed the concert start time to 7:30 which means I’d have to leave work early to make it. Compounding this situation was an incredibly rare mid-April snowstorm. Luckily things are a bit slack for me at work this week and I was able to leave early enough that I made it to the show a few minutes before start time. What with the foul weather they ended up starting around 7:45 so it wasn’t quite as tight as I feared.

I: Palais de Mari (c. Morton Felman)
I’m quite familiar with this piece having heard several recordings of it and having seen Ivan Sokolov perform it earlier this year as part of the Seattle Chamber Player’s Feldman Marathon so this would be an interesting comparison. Drury gave us a brief introduction to the piece mainly mentioning that this was Feldman’s final solo piano piece and that like the bulk of his works was instructed to be played softly. He also mentioned that one of Feldman’s primary concerns in his late works was patterns often constructed from repetitions of short segments inspired somewhat by oriental rugs. This is something that is definitely present in Palais de Mari, which prominently features short little arpeggios and broken chords that seem to slowly iterate though a self similar pattern.  Every so often in the piece there is a discordant chord in the lower register which hangs in the air until it mostly fades away. This always makes me think of how in an oriental rug there is always a ldeliberate flaw so as not to be an affront to Allah.

Drury’s performance was very well paced taking around twenty-five minutes to transverse the piece and his touch was light but sure.  I thought that one of those aforementioned chords was out of place at one point toward the end but it is hard to say, as they are irregularly spaced and I wouldn’t claim to know the piece that well.  As promised the dynamics were uniformly soft, though those discordant moments provided a nice contrast.  The excellent acoustics of the chapel allowed even the faintist of sounds to be heard with a crystalline clarity. Ambient sounds would leak in from time to time, though always at an even softer volume, a dopplering siren at one point being particularly nice.  In comparing the two recent performances I’ve witnessed I would say I found Drury’s superior to Sokolovs. Sokolov I thought rushed through the piece a bit, which isn’t all that surprising as it was the last piece of a nearly four hour concert that prominently featured his playing.  While I think that Drury’s performance is excellent I would say that I still prefer my recording of John Tilbury playing it.

Interval SeriesGhost Light Trio (c. Matt Sargent, film by Mike Gibisser)
Apparently part of each of Washington Composers Forum’s Transport series is a short film made to the music of a local composer. This film is shown at the end of intermission before the second half of the concert.  The film we saw tonight was Ghost Light Trio which overall I wasn’t that impressed by.  There seemed to be odd technical difficulties, which as it was just a DVD playing through a projector seemed a bit odd – it could be they were part of the piece, which if so was wholly uninteresting.  The music was made up of three sounds, each heavily processed at times. These sounds were recordings of water, traffic and bells.  The film was two images with dividing line as if there was two projectors. The film began with the sound of surf and corresponding imagery of blurry ocean. The chimes came in, often overlayed and at times quite dense. The imagery was blurred windows, a mostly empty room and water. The music was uniformly ambient with the bells being the most dramatic aspect. It wasn’t very interesting music and the filmmaker seemed to have responded likewise. There was two overwhelmingly loud blasts of sound that came across as a technical error but again its hard to see how that could happen. Additionally there was a bit where it looked like the video signal went down which is certainly possible but as it was just a DVD again seems unlikely. Especially as one of these times half of the video went to a “no input” screen but considering that there wasn’t two inputs seems like it was staged. If so this was visually and conceptually uninteresting and didn’t redeem the overall tepid affair.

II: The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (c. Frederic Rzewski)
Shortly after the film, Drury again took the stage and again began with some explanatory remarks. This piece, which is thirty-six variations on the Chilean song ¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido! by Sergio Ortega and Quilapayún, takes nearly an hour to perform. So Drury explained he wanted to give us a roadmap as it were to the piece.  The organization of the piece is nicely laid out in its Wikipedia page but he explained several features to the structure of the variations that I wasn’t aware of.  The piece is 36 variations which are organized in sets of 6. Each set of 6 is 5 unique variations with the 6th being constructed of the previous 5. This principle continues one level high in that the 6th set of variations is made up of the corresponding sets of the unique variations. That is to say that variation 31 would be made up of variation 1, 7, 13, 20 and 27. Variation 32 would be made up of variation 2, 8, 14, 21 and 28 and so on through variation 35. Variation 36, following the structure, then is made up of the previous 5 which being constructed from the preceding 30 means that it is a microcosm, a reflection of the entire piece.

The People United Will Never Be Defeated! is a rousing piece based on a catchy theme that one can completely understand being used as a revolutionary anthem. As I walked out from the show I overheard at least three different individuals independently humming the theme.  The variations, as variations do, present this theme in myriad ways, but in classic 20th Century style it deconstructs it further and further to the point that some variations would only be recognizable as derived from it via analysis of the notes themselves. Yet it always maintains the propulsive energy of the piece even in the softer, slower sections.  Drury performed the piece from memory which I found quite impressive. Variations do make aspects of memorization easier, but at the same time their self-similarity can make it easy to get lost. Especially at that great a number of variations over such a length of time.  Having seen Rzewski perform just a couple of months ago I can say that Drury captured his energy and the strength of his attacks quite well. The piece while having a fairly romantic feel to it, does incorporate a variety of extended techniques, including whistling along with his playing and one point slamming the lid down over the keys.  Another part I liked quite a bit was a sequence of vigorous one finger oscillationg playing way up in the upper register. This was done at great force with his hands as fists with just the pointer finger extended hammering at the keys. This created layers of overtones and reverberations that reminded me of nothing so much as the techniques I’d seen used in the Lachenmann performance a couple of weeks back.  In fact the very concept of using a popular melody and exploring, exploiting and deconstructing it in this way was a connection between these two, one that I have to assume Lachenmann is doing after Rzewski.

It was a bravura performance as powerful and as well executed as the recordings I’ve heard of this piece. After pounding out the thirty-six variations Drury delivered on the optional improvisation with a short bit of reference to the them and them of course the rousing reprise. At the conclusion he lept away from the piano and received a well deserved standing ovation at the conclusion.

Frederic Rzewski at the Chapel.

On Saturday, March 1st I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Frederic Rzewski performing his own compositions at the chapel.  Honestly I’m not all that up on Rzewski’s work, I’ve got a few cds, People United Never Will be Defeated! of course and have heard the odd thing here and there. I’ve also heard most of the MEV stuff that he was on and am fairly up on his place in the radical music of that time especially in his connections to Cornelius Cardew. I’ve not been as into the whole text reading/piano combination that he I’ve kind of associated him with (not sure how fairly, that might be a smaller part of his oeuvre then I’ve imagined). Anyway rare US tour from him though, was not something I was going to miss.

The Chapel was far more packed then I have ever seen it before. They normally setup two columns of half a dozen seats going back for 10-12 rows. This time they had added an additional “wing” to each of these nearly doubling the seating. These were nearly all filled and seemed like some additional seating was set up in the back. All those bodies warmed it up pretty well.  They gave us a nice handout which detailed the pieces that were going to be played in depth, including the old folk songs that a couple of them were based on. A note on that, this is a fairly common component of Rzewski’s compositions, where he’ll take a folk song and riff on it, most famously in People United Will Never be Defeated! with its 36 variations. Not too much passed the published start time the lights dimmed and Frederic ambled up to the stage and without preamble began to play.

Johnny has Gone for a Soldier (2003)
Rzewski, as he sat down, immediately attack the piano with the opening chords of this piece.  Lots of big chords, dramatic runs, propulsive density.  Rather romantic I felt, with powerful emotions directly channeled into the music and a deliberate attempt to communicate this to the audience. There’d be these more plaintive, brooding sections as the lull between attacks and then back to the dramatic attacks on the piano. His precision and power in these dramatic sections was impressive, especially as he looks like this slight grandfatherly figure. The whole thing slowed down and by the end was softer, more contemplative. Pauses began to appear, tentative feeling like there was some criteria he had to meet before he’d start playing again. Three of four of these variable length pauses and then it ended with a few quiet chords.

Afterwards he stood up to the applause and when it died down said a few words. He pointed out that all of these pieces tonight were about war. I knew this and this was pretty obvious in the program notes but I have to say that I could really feel it in the pieces. I didn’t do a very close reading of the program notes until after the show and about the above piece he said this: “I simply allowed my thoughts on war, and the current one in particular, to spin themselves out, always following the structure of the song”.  This is definitely how it felt to me, the bits of the theme poking up here and there. He describes that tentative ending thusly: “The ending seems inconclusive, just like the ongoing war now.”

War Songs (2008, premier)
Continuing with his comments at the conclusion of the previous piece,  he informed us that the next pieces were a work in progress and that this in fact was the first time he’ll perform them.  “I don’t know how to play these yet” he concluded as he sat down.  These feeling definitely went through the performance of these, as it felt hesitant, rawer a bit careful. At times he’d lean forward and his big bushy eyebrows would raise almost in surprise, a “what was I thinking” kind of look. And yet I felt this all really added to the piece. The war we are in now is such a mess and the reactions are so odd. People are mostly opposed and yet they aren’t really invested and don’t do anything. To someone from the ’60 where popular uprisings and protest was the norm and the conversation was always dominated by the war it must just seem confusing.  Confusion is what cam through to me in this piece, interspersed with some anger and genuine pain.

Fragments of popular war melodies would seem to arise here and again, spaced out, sometimes almost played a note at a time with one finger and then collapsing into the miasma of the piece.  Some of this almost had a serial feel to me and the program notes do reveal that they were highly structured. “Writing these things was a little like doing crossword puzzles.” Again I think the unpracticed nature of this performance helped out with this deeper structure, it might feel a lot less emotional if played with perfect precision. Afterwards he genuinely asked for comments on the piece.

Mayn Yingele (1988)
The finale piece from the first set was also the oldest composition. It felt a lot closer to the first piece, with loud romantic sections and sparser more intricate bits.  It felt more structured almost a combination of Liszt and Webern in its mix of romance and structure. Or perhaps a throwback to that period in the early twentieth century where certain modern composers were using the techniques of the day adapting the folk songs of their youth. This piece is a set of twenty four variations on a Yiddish tune to which a poem by Morris Rosenfield had been set. The theme concerns a father who works so much in a sweatshop that he never sees his son.  Rzewski wrote this piece on the anniversary of Kristallnacht and of it his says: “My piece is a reflection on that vanished part of Jewish tradition which so strongly colors, by its absence, the culture of our time”.  The most powerful part of this piece was it’s conclusion where after a more contemplative section he switches to these repeated pounded chords with the sustain pedal down. These built up in power and volume and reverberated in the space and clashed with his other in a violent cry.

Frederic Rzewski at the piano

Four Pieces (1977)
There was a short intermission during which they (blessedly) opened the windows of the chapel and let in some air and ambient sounds. Not a very long break, fifteen minutes or so and then the lights dimmed and Frederic came back onto the stage. The final piece was the oldest of all the pieces he played and the longest.  The notes inform us that it was written as a “kind of sequel” to The People United.  Structurally it is pretty different from that piece and not being a set of variations doesn’t quite have that feel. But you can tell that stylistically it is of that period. The notes describe the structure thusly: “It is a kind of sonata in four movements, with a single theme that keeps returning in different forms and moods, vaguely reminiscent of traditional music of the Andes, but without actually quoting anything.”  The theme threading through it does tie it all together and the four parts are pretty recognizable distinct. It has the elements of the earlier piece; romantic runs, big chords and softer more introspective sections. It’s connection to the war theme wasn’t as apparent to me, but the notes inform me that it is a “meditation on Chile four years after the coup d’etat”.

Musically my favorite part was the fourth and final piece was began with a repeated figures in both hand in the very upper register. Almost minimalist in nature these slowly worked their way down to the low end of the piano and then began working their way up again. A pause in the mid range with almost variations on the repetitions and then it was back up again. Once reaching the upper register he almost immediately headed lower again this time a pretty rapid transgression down and back up. These repeated again and once in the low end began a slower, but inevitable migration back upwards. The piece concluded with single notes, spaced out on the very highest keys. Really stunning and a nice way to conclude the evening. Frederic concluded his stay in Seattle with a well deserved standing ovation.

I really enjoyed this performance and the music. I hope I have the stamina and strength of Frederic when I’m 70!  I really appreciate how he has stayed true to his politics and they way his concerns for the world have not diminished. Politically music is a tricky thing, done wrong it is no more then propaganda or club songs. Too abstract and it is totally opaque. Obviously things like the program notes help bring this clear but I think that at least in a couple of the pieces the message is clear. Like a well chose album title, just telling us that the nights theme was war related was enough. The notes just gave us the specifics.