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Jenny Lin “The Eleventh Finger” [Koch]

It’s clear that Jenny Lin has been eating her Wheaties. Her latest recorded effort features piano works no older than 1977 and some which should require no fewer than eleven fingers and technique to spare.

Nosturnos by Arthur Kampela: A wildly seesawing ride and a barnstorming first track. See how your brain juggles the opening tarentella’s speed and metric modulation.

Etudes 16, 17, and 18 by Gyorgy Ligeti: The late Ligeti’s last three etudes are given peaceful and sufficiently mechanical readings (for him, the piano was a machine, not some Romantic expression of the voice). These are remarkable pieces written by a man who couldn’t really play the piano. Lin’s performance on #17, ‘Out of Breath?, is the best of the three.

Studio di Disabitudine by Stefano Gervasoni: An ‘anti-etude? on an oh-so-slightly prepared piano (only at the very ends of the keyboard) designed to specifically confound Lin both musically and dextrously. All attempts at useful repetition on a small and large architectonic scale are avoided; we are meant to feel ‘uncomfortable?. I suppose it works; just don’t play this enough times to get used to it! P.S.: I just said ‘architectonic?.

Detail of Beethoven’s Hair by Randy Nordschow: Much like Cage’s star chart chance works, Nordschow uses pixellated hairy excerpts of Beethoven portraits as the basis for this composition. By the way, SJSU has an important Beethoven collection and research center whose centerpiece is the lock of hair in question.

Chromatic Canon by James Tenney: A 2nd generation minimalist masterpiece, a dodecaphonic palindrome played by two pianos (Lin playing over a tape of Lin). She succeeds in milking the dissonances for maximum unsettling effect and for playing against the tape playback for an eerie slurred sound. Tenney’s music isn’t found in our library yet, but you can find his writings in the liner notes for Wergo’s Nancarrow set. P.S.: Ligeti at one point named Tenney America’s greatest living composer.

Suberrebus for Piano & Computer Processing by Elliot Sharp: Leave it to the downtown composer to breath of tonal air into the disk; this piece opens with a 2-minute double-octave fanfare on the same tone, after which Sharp begins to tweak Lin’s musical building blocks, adding some echoes, some destructive interruptions, and some steely slides. No two performances should sound alike, yet Sharp calls this instance a ‘studio ideal.’

Shiraz by Claude Vivier: An amazing journey, possibly inspired by a trip to Iran. The work’s seed is a fancy 4-note chord that grows according to the Fibonacci series, but none of this is apparent. The programme is more important and Lin presents us with a tumultuous portrait of this city of poetry, wine, and roses. P.S. Ligeti at one point named Vivier Canada’s greatest living composer. This was before Vivier was murdered in Paris at the age of 35.

3 Word Review: The Taiwanese Nightingale

-Cujo, KFJC, July 2006

  • Reviewed by cujo on July 18, 2006 at 2:58 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
  • 2 comments

  • 2 Comments

    This just in – James Tenney died yesterday (August 25). Not too much else to say, except play the Chromatic Canon!

  • Comment by Cujo - KFJC, August 26th, 2006 6:07 pm
  • Jenny Lin posts a brief recollection of Tenney at NewMusicBox:
    http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=4778

  • Comment by Cujo - KFJC, September 11th, 2006 10:28 pm

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