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Crumb's masterful études are preceded by a jazzy riff on the main thematic material by Eric Reed; a passionate, Rachmaninoff-tinged Little Midnight Nocturne by Fred Hersch; and Superstar Etude No 2 by Pulitzer Prize winner Aaron Jay Kernis -- a thorny, dissonant pyrotechnical display marked by relentless driving rhythms -- played with bravura panache by Arciuli. The program's second part Round Midnight Variations opened with a coolly cerebral statement of Monk's immortal tune followed by Matthew Quayle's Monk Sits Down to Write a Tune -- light music Leroy Anderson style replete with tone clusters and a rollicking stride piano finale. In the Morning comprised a surprisingly light, airy contribution from the usually cutting edge Frederic Rzewski; a jazzily atonal gloss by Milton Babbitt; and Italian composer Roberto Andreoni's Slinking around Midnight -- an Impressionistic view of jazz improvisation. In the Afternoon opened with a rigorously modern, abstract arabesque by Augusta Read Thomas. Precious Time by Filippo Del Corno evoked the mystical, post-Romanticism of Alexander Scriabin. Michael Torke added a pop inspired minimalist vignette. Diversions: Three Midnight Variations by Carlo Boccadoro traversed Prokofieff's steely rhythms and Gershwin's pounding, jazzy pianistic displays (with a direct quotation from the composer's Concerto in F). Boccadoro's mini divertimento brought a dazzling display of sheer keyboard virtuosity from the remarkable Arciuli.

In the Evening opened with Monk Trope, a dreamy, rhapsodic, highly Romantic rumination from the usually austere John Harbison. David Crumb (George Crumb's son) wrote a variation that fuses American blues and misty Gallic sophistication in equal measure. Monk in the Kitchen by Michael Daugherty (a composer celebrated for his pop icon based scores) is a clangorous, rock-infused showpiece. Award winning composer and musicologist William Bolcom's Just 'Round Midnight is a mock keyboard exercise -- roll over Carl Czerny. Midnight Dream by Gerald Levinson is French modernist (à la Messiaen) trance music -- the perfect midnight riff. The Cadenza and Finale by Joel Hoffman returns to the music's modern jazz roots -- soulful, tranquil, and beautifully evocative!

The patrician, deeply probing artistry of Emanuele Arciuli produced a unique musical event. A supreme pianistic colorist, Arciuli infused every note and stylistic diversion with the most elegant, shimmering pianistic glow. A rare evening indeed -- the concept and artistry of a genius!

Copyright © 19 October 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA






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