Frederic Anthony Rzewski (1938–2021) was considered one of the most important American composer-pianists of his time. The works on this album are performed by Rzewski's friend and the dedicatee of his remarkable Winter Nights, pianist Bobby Mitchell, who also wrote the booklet notes for this release which represents his Naxos debut.
‘In the years that I knew Frederic personally, he composed an extraordinary amount of piano music, as well as various chamber works and two piano concertos. This album presents a cross-section of his later piano works which I have enjoyed playing most in public. The intention is to document some of his most interesting works that have not yet been recorded and commercially released.’
Frederic Rzewski was one of the most important American composer-pianists of his time. The themes explored in his late piano works are typical of his entire body of work in their uncompromising and universal nature. The intensely contrapuntal Ruins and virtuoso Wake Up are the last pieces in his vast piano cycle Dreams, while the War Songs weave together six war and anti-war songs from the last seven centuries. Winter Nights was written for Bobby Mitchell. Rzewski said of the three movements that they were intended to help with insomnia in a similar way to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, though they are inevitably very different in the darkness of their moods.
Listen to an extract from Saints and Sinners
About the Artist
Bobby Mitchell is an American pianist noted for crossing the traditional boundaries of programming and performance practice. He is active as a solo and collaborative pianist on modern and historical instruments and is also experienced in the fields of improvisation and composition. He has performed extensively worldwide. Highlights include concerto performances with Philippe Herreweghe and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century as well as numerous performances of Frederic Rzewski’s 36 variations on The People United Will Never Be Defeated!.
‘ … this is a fascinating disc of music from a truly interesting and thought-provoking composer. It’s brilliantly played and well worth exploring by anyone prepared to take on more challenging works.’ – MusicWeb International