Rzewski: Main Drag; Coming Together

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Stradivarius
WORKS: Main Drag; Coming Together
It’s impossible to have too much Frederic Rzewski on disc for so many reasons, not least of which is the energy he has devoted to the exploration of a wide variety of compositional approaches. His early serialist training under Piston, Sessions and Babbitt, his interest in both vocal and electronic music and his sophisticated political outlook have all contributed to Rzewski’s current status as a modernist polymath whose work nevertheless remains grounded in very human concerns. It’s perhaps understandable that the ensemble Alter Ego has chosen to place his name above the title of what is, in fact, a programme of fairly diverse new music which also includes pieces from a variety of other composers/performers, ranging from the underground work of Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) to the hip-hop sensibilities of Frankie Hi-NRG (named after a potent strain of disco music). As it turns out, this is a very good example of what this kind of CD should be. Instruments, electronic processing and spoken texts cohabit and interpenetrate here with both intelligence and passion. My own favourite here would have to be Rzewski’s astonishing Attica, as moving now as when it was freshly composed 30-odd years ago. Roger Thomas