Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano

Album review
Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano

John Corigliano

Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano

Label: Cedille
Media: SACD
Genre: Classical

John Corigliano, an honored stalwart among American composers, has written for the piano throughout his career. Ursula Oppens, joined by Jerome Lowenthal for a couple of two-piano works, surveys 50 years of music that’s amazingly consistent in its drama and technical assurance, even as it grows in emotional depth and stylistic flare. Earliest is Kaleidoscope for two pianos, composed in 1958 when Corigliano was a student at Columbia. This is a short piece with the sunny confidence of youth as well as of that time in America. The most recent offering is Winging It: Improvisations for piano, from 2007-2008. Three short movements were extemporized at the piano bench by the composer and processed with MIDI technology to produce a printed score that Corigliano could then gently refine. The final product indeed retains a large measure of inspired spontaneity. The most striking piece on the CD is Chiaroscuro, employing two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart— one instrument a ghostly reflection of the other. Completing the program are Fantasia on an Ostinato, Corigliano’s closest approach to minimalism, and Etude Fantasy, which fashions a coherent 17-minute fantasia from five brief virtuoso studies. The sound is weighty, dimensional, and impactful. 

More Info

  • composer, John Corigliano
  • primary artist, Ursula Oppens
  • primary artist, Jerome Lowenthal
  • SACD

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