Meredith Monk's Piano Songs consists of pieces or other material dating from 1971 to 2006, originally composed for voice or conceived with aspects of song at their core. Yet writing for two pianos presented Monk with many possibilities, and she didn't always rely on song structure as her model. This ECM New Series release by Ursula Oppens and Bruce Brubaker shows how strongly Monk was influenced by the minimalism of the 1970s, because the kinetic patterns of Obsolete Objects, Folkdance, Tower, Railroad, Window in 7's, and Totentanz create their content and define the form. Even such song-like pieces as Ellis Island, Urban March, Paris, and Parlour Games have active patterns that move the music along, though at a more moderate pace. Perhaps only the St. Petersburg Waltz and the Phantom Waltz are constructed with a conventional single-line melody and accompaniment, and the repeated chord progressions provide a traditional harmonic rhythm, rather than generate the main material. Oppens and Brubaker perform with precision and energy, and the album presents a mix of bright and energetic pieces with softer, moodier reflections.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson