ZOFO Plays Terry Riley

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ZOFO is the San Francisco piano four-hands duet of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi. (The name stands for "20-finger orchestra.") Zimmermann and Nakagoshi have been rightly lauded for their chemistry and their glittering, precise high-register work, and that is in evidence once again here on this collection of short pieces by the father of minimalism, Terry Riley. But an even stronger attraction is the chance to sample some of the music Riley has written in the years since his epochal In C. Riley has been somewhat neglected in comparison with Philip Glass, John Adams, and Steve Reich, each of whom made moves in the direction of the classical grand tradition. The works heard here are apparently all more recent (dates would have been helpful). Some are original four-hand works, some were arranged by ZOFO from string quartet pieces (premiered by the Kronos Quartet), and one work, the delightful Praying Mantis Rag, commissioned by the duo from the octogenarian composer. The title of that suggests the quality that links most of the works on the album: Riley forged a quite unusual fusion between minimalism and vernacular rhythms. A work like the 13-minute Etude from the Old Country has the monumental, abstract quality for which Riley was famous, and at which ZOFO excels. But it's a toe-tapper and they get this quality too. Highly recommended.

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