Pianist virtuoso Anthony de Mare offers on Wizards & Wildmen a beautifully-conceived program around three of the most important figures in XXth century American music: Charles Ives, Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison. All three were pianists and shared a musical vision - and although they were each separated by a generation, they were in contact with each other.
De Mare selected some of Ives' best piano works ("The Alcotts," from the "Piano Sonata No. 2; " "The Celestial Road"), as well as a few curiosities (like the "Three Improvisations"). But the bulk of the program is dedicated to Cowell and Harrison, the latter's piano work still virtually unknown and under-documented. Five Harrison pieces are found on record for the first time here. Wizards & Wildmen takes us from one composer to another and back, shuffling styles and influences. The exercise highlights how all three worked in the same direction. The music is highly emotional, but the emotion found new ways of channeling itself, ways brutal at times. Anthony de Mare is at ease with the mellow numbers (like Harrison's "New York Waltzes") but becomes riveting on the most difficult (on a listening standpoint): Cowell's "Dynamic Motion," Ives' demanding "Celestial Railroad."