Fabrizio Ottaviucci

Terry Riley: Keyboard Studies 1 & 2; Tread on the Trail

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This remarkable Stradivarius disc features Italian pianist Fabrizio Ottaviucci in performances of some of Terry Riley's earliest forays into minimalism, his Keyboard Studies (1963) and Tread on the Tail (1965), both pieces that observe a repetitive developmental strategy along the lines of In C (1964). Both works are relatively rare, having been recorded no more than three times each; the Keyboard Studies by Steffen Schleiermacher for MDG (and the second study by Riley himself) and Tread on the Tail by two different saxophone quartets. This is its debut as a piano piece.

Ottaviucci also plays jazz, which helps him get into the right feel for Riley, whose own keyboard playing can be described as anything but rigid. His two brightly colorful etudes -- the only two among several from this period that survive in a notated form -- are like a continuous stream of positive ions, and from a purely experiential perspective, this music is a better boost than an energy drink. Tread on the Tail is a little less successful in that the piece seems better served in an ensemble situation; Ottaviucci varies the timbre a bit by utilizing just intonation on his piano and some simple preparations, but the realization still sounds a little clogged and confused. No matter, there is an awful lot going for Fabrizio Ottaviucci's recordings of Riley's Keyboard Studies and this performance will definitely please devotees of this composer.

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