Powerhouse Pianists is the American Modern Ensemble's first recording on the AMR label and highlights two of it's members, pianists Blair McMillen and Stephen Gosling. Hailed by critics as 'Brilliant young stars...The dynamic duo of contemporary pianists' (The New York Times), this recording contains a selection of contemporary masterpieces by a few of America's greatest composers. Of special note on this recording is a work by Annie Gosfield in which Mr. McMillen plays the piano with a baseball mitt and baseballs. REVIEW FROM THE JUILLIARD JOURNAL: An eclectic program... McMillen offers a rarity right off the bat, with Chester Biscardi's softly glittering Piano Sonata, then completely changes direction with Lee Hyla's stark Basic Training and Eric Moe's Where Branched Thoughts Murmur in the Wind, a brief, delicate essay. He ends with Brooklyn, October 5, 1941, Annie Gosfield's striking tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers (played with baseballs and a mitt), in an unusual set delivered with tautness and finesse. Gosling begins with George Tsontakis's enigmatic Bagatelle, which at one point hovers over some very Brahmsian chords, followed by the darkly mysterious Episodes for Piano by Perry Townsend. Then Conlon Nancarrow bubbles into the mix with Tango?, brimming with wit. The cascade of notes continues with Joan Tower's Or Like a... an Engine, it's stammering title from a John Ashbery poem, and Gosling really floors the gas pedal for E-Machines, a hyperactive jolt by David Rakowski. Finally comes Five Études for Piano by Mischa Zupko, clearly influenced by Ligeti, and Gosling gives them a scientific accuracy, as if surveying their intricacies with a microscope. Engineer John Yannelli, capturing both pianists in the hall at Sarah Lawrence College, has given these dynamic artists a clear soundstage against which even the minutest details register in sharp focus. ••• The American Modern Ensemble (AME) is based in New York City and was formed in 2005 with the goal of premiering, performing and recording and commissioning the widest possible repertoire written by American composers. The focus is to celebrate and showcase American music and especially works written by living composers. Each season, we choose one American composer to feature on a program devoted to his or her music. AME is also dedicated to education and outreach programs that expose communities to American music, and particularly to new music written by living composers.
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