I was listening to a broadcast focusing on contemporary piano music a couple years ago and the piece that was playing at the time I tuned in was "In Times of Desperation" by Caleb Burhans. This piece immediately gripped me with it's simplicity, darkness, emotional clarity. To a degree the piano writing reminds me of Tori Amos when she was at the height of her compositional and song-writing powers during the 1990's. So of course I had to get the disc. "In Times of Desperation" was a composed reaction to Luciano Berio's death in 2003, and is dedicated to Berio and to Burhan's father who had passed away some years earlier.
The title piece "Fast Jump: Etudes & Interludes for piano" by Lona Kozik is a captivating work I think, and the level of virtuosity that is necessary is a bit astonishing - I know it would make me run and hide. It runs the gamut from gentle impressionistic moments of beauty to spiky aggressiveness and wild energetic outbursts. I especially like the final movement ("Fast Jump") which inhabits a world of twisted ragtime - with perhaps some boozing at a speakeasy! Quiet a memorable listen!
After "Fast Jump" we swing around 180° for Jascha Narveson's "Ripple" which is a quiet, meditative short piece. It is rather like ripples upon otherwise still water; I for one would prefer gazing at the water itself.
Graham Fitkin's "Relent" describes exactly what this work refuses to do - and I'm happy it doesn't! It's a frantic ride well worth trying to hold onto, pianism with an intensity that makes imo for a perfect musical depiction of 21st century life - trying to attain peace yet hopelessly sucked into its currents.
David Lang's "Memory Pieces" is another superb exploration of juxtaposition not unlike "Fast Jump".
There are minimalist tendencies yet the music is not wholly repetitive; there is a mesmerizing electricity here (try "spartan arcs") as well as periods of limpid quietude ("cello" etc.) and the work is altogether full of textural surprises. Through both calm and storm do we trek. I find the opening of "spartan arcs" especially beautiful!