Although concert pianists naturally tend toward extroversion, it takes a particularly confident performer to undertake Frederic Rzewski's De Profundis (1992), the spotlight work on Which Side Are You On?, an all-Rzewski disc released by Cantaloupe Music in 2003. The pianist here is Lisa Moore, whose impeccable keyboard skills are augmented by a hauntingly tranquil speaking voice (reminiscent of Lucinda Childs' detached utterances in Einstein on the Beach). Both are on magnificent display here, as Rzewski's roving and restless piano score -- alternately minimalist, pointillist, and explosive -- serves as the backdrop for the pianist's simultaneous dramatic reading of Oscar Wilde's prose work De Profundis. Written from his jail cell in 1905, Wilde's text rails against injustice and despair even as Rzewski's piano part casts a pall of cruel reality over the scene. Moore deftly navigates both roles, even in those conflicting passages where the hands escape the keyboard and drum the piano's exterior casing, or the voice veers from the text into gasps, moans, and melodies. Indeed, aided by this recording's attention to intimate vocal and pianistic nuance, Moore's impassioned rendering might rival the composer's own (Nonesuch, 1998). Also featured on the recording are Rzewski's North American Ballads (1978-1979), partially improvised arrangements of traditional spirituals that Moore undertakes with long-breathed lyricism.
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AllMusic Review by Jeremy Grimshaw
|North American Ballads (4) for piano|