Solo Concert, Michael Century

Solo Concert, Michael Century

Date posted: 2012-01-04 12:48:34

This concert will take place at the Troy Savings Bank and Music Hall at Noon on Tuesday, February 14, 2012.




Program of pieces to be performed:

Alban Berg            Sonata for Piano, Opus one

Michael Century   Twenty-One

Michael Century   Fogo Variations*

Terry Riley          Keyboard Study No. 1*

Frederic Rzewski  Winsboro Cotton Mill Blues

Guy Klucevsek     Accordion Misdemeanors*

*on accordion

Notes on the programme

This afternoon's concert offers a broad scope in terms of style and sound -- from hyper-romanticism to minimalism, from extended piano techniques to raunchy accordion backbeats.  Alban Berg's Sonata for Piano, Opus One, a notable first composition (called his best piece by no less than Glenn Gould), is a one-movement flowering of chromatic expressionism.  Rigorously structured in the textbook sonata form, the piece nonetheless conveys a searing emotion and passion.  It was written in the early years of the young Berg's apprenticeship with Arnold Schoenberg, and conveys his close attention to the older composer's explorations of free atonality.   In Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, iconoclastic American composer Frederic Rzewski skillfully conveys a social message through its setting of the traditional blues song about a cotton mill in Winnsboro, South Carolina.  Opening with the expressive indication "machine like, expressionless", the piece reaches a crashing climax of factory-smashing piano clusters, followed by a beautiful, richly harmonized blues, and the recapitulation of the familiar folk song.  Switching to accordion, the Fogo Variations is another setting of a traditional folk song, this time a yearning love ballad from the fishing outports of Newfoundland.  Terry Riley's minimalist Keyboard Study No. 1 was composed around the same time as his seminal In C, and appeared on the program of the latter work's premiere concert produced by the San Francisco Tape Music Center in November 1964.  Both works grow out of Riley's experimentation with electronic tape delays.  This performance on accordion permits a separation of hands on the two keyboards and is enhanced by the resonance and sustaining power of that instrument.   Returning to piano, Twenty-One is a structured improvisation based on a rhythmic theme - 21 beats combined in polyrhythmic groupings of 7 and 3 beats.  The concert closes with Guy Klucevsek's Accordion Misdemeanors, commissioned as a witty soundtrack to the Annie Proulx novel, Accordion Crimes.  It is a suite of short 9 folk-inspired pieces, taking the listener on a journey across America tracking the spread of the accordion to various communities - for instance, a Sicilian tarantella of New Orleans, a polka from the Mid-west, and a Basque dance in Montana.


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