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James M. Keller
Santa Fe New Mexican, February 2015

The Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat fills the bill admirably, tossing off the composer’s bold phrases with passionate élan and technical facility. On this disc, serious modern music meets fun listening. © 2015 Santa Fe New Mexican Read complete review

Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, January 2015

…the more you listen to this disc or, indeed, any of Rzewski’s music the more satisfying it becomes. It is certainly a different musical world from that which most of us are used to but entering it is thoroughly fascinating and worthwhile. The fact that Rzewski wrote Hard Cuts for both pianist Ralph van Raat and Lunapark tells you of his opinion as to their artistry. On the evidence of this disc one cannot help concurring. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, January 2015

This is a major virtuoso work which will surprise many who only know his more “accessible” music. It requires significant concentration and considerable virtuosity, which Mr van Raat has in spades.

This is an important release, and pianists should snap it up immediately. So should anyone interested in the 20th-Century piano repertoire. Rzewski is himself a brilliant pianist, and he should be pleased with the efforts of Mr Van Raat. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, January 2015

The opening work, Four Pieces from 1977, shows us a thornier, almost a more conventional view of Rzewski…[and] Van Raat plays it with tremendous feeling and style.

…this is an interesting disc of not-so-well-known works by Rzewski. Recommended to his many admirers. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, January 2015

Ralph van Raat…seems to have a clear understanding of what Rzewski’s music is all about, and he has the skills needed to respond to Rzewski’s difficult writing. In Hard Cuts, Lunapark’s interplay with van Raat comes off well, and there is both wit and dedication in their playing.

Interesting music and understanding performances make it easy for me to give this disc a recommendation. Fanfare Read complete review

George Grella
The Big City, December 2014

Best Classical Recordings of 2014

Rzewski’s political themes, as strong as they are, have overshadowed his achievements as a pure composer. The People United Will Never Be Defeated is a statement, and also one of the great works of variations in the classical literature. If that is his “Goldberg”, then Four Pieces is his “Hammerklavier,” a tremendous piano sonata in classical form. © 2014 The Big City

Robert Benson, November 2014

This is a challenging CD, performed to perfection… © 2014 Read complete review

Jed Distler, September 2014

Raat’s assured sense of style and command of Rzewski’s formidable virtuosic material are never in question.

…The Housewife’s Lament is a set of variations on a 19th-century song…Its quaint theme immediately gives way to gnarly clusters, tremolos, and trills. Raat is at his best here; he judges the unpredictable style shifts and emotional swings to perfection… © 2014 Read complete review

Vivien Schweitzer
The New York Times, September 2014

The pianist Ralph van Raat conveys [the]…turbulence and dramatic contours [of the pieces], punctuated by interludes of dark-hued lyricism. © 2014 The New York Times Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, September 2014

Four Pieces…finds the composer in an expressive, tumultuous mode typical of his music of that period.

It is all exemplary Rzewski, a composer never comfortable to remain in formalist high-modern expression, but ever searching for stylistic linkages with the past, the world and the future. Ralph van Raat has the technique and a temperamental affinity with Rzewski that makes each of the three works sing with energy and panache.

The volume serves as a good introduction to the composer for those who do not know him well…recommended! © 2014 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2014

Born in 1938, Frederic Rzewski has followed in the footsteps of his mentors Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions, all at the very cutting-edge of American modernists. His left-wing Socialist tendencies have shaped many of his scores, the soloist’s programme notes with the disc, suggesting that hidden within the Four Pieces are political protests, the popular content of the third piece coming from an Andean slow dance and is in reference to the people’s revolution for freedom. Less in the way of a protest, yet a reflection of the toil of working-class women in the 19th century, The Housewife’s Lament, is a set of variations on a theme by an unknown composer of that period. It is a problem still faced, particularly in Third World countries, Rzewski, often turning to simple tonality to make his work listener friendly. Composed three years ago, Hard Cuts, is scored for piano and chamber ensemble, and is based the musical notes B-A-C-H. At that point it loses contact with the famous composer, though it does show a shift from hard-core atonality to a modern version of tonality. It also moves away from Rzewski’s love of programmatic scores to one of a more abstract nature. If you are just coming to the composer, start here. The Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat continues his pilgrimage championing modern music, and is joined in Hard Cuts by the recently formed, Lunapark, an instrumental group dedicated to new music. Stunning sound. © 2014 David’s Review Corner

James Manheim, September 2014

All…works speak to the problem of following up on a substantial and entirely original work, but all of them manage to do it in an interesting way, and the performances are both technically solid and enthusiastic. © 2014 Read complete review, August 2014

A major shift in mental, emotional and auditory gears is required to move from contemplating the fortepiano era to thinking about the piano as used by contemporary [composer] Frederic Rzewski…[this CD] from Naxos clearly shows where the piano, and composers for it, stand today. The comparative gigantism of the instrument itself has long since been taken for granted, and today’s composers are often concerned with extending the piano’s considerable capabilities even further than have previous composers…The Housewife’s Lament…was audibly influenced by Beethoven—although Rzewski’s variations are clearly 20th-century in sound, technique and focus. His Four Pieces run the gamut from lyrical warmth to dynamic drama, their Andean dance rhythms reflecting the now-common use of comparatively exotic, folk-music-based elements as building blocks. Folk rhythms permeate Hard Cuts as well…is clearly built with the minimalist style that many modern composers favor. Ralph van Raat performs all the music with sure-handed understanding… © 2014 Read complete review

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