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Jeni Slotchiver - American Heritage is a valuable reference resource; and makes an excellent case for music that deserves more attention / The Rehearsal Studio

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Earlier this month Zoho (last discussed this past May for its release of two albums of guitarist Sharon Isbin) released its first CD of solo piano music performed by Jeni Slotchiver. The title of the album is American Heritage, and it surveys 125 years of music by American composers. The "early bookend" for this recording is the nineteenth-century composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, represented by one of his best-known works, "The Banjo" (Opus 15), as well as the thematically innovative "Paraphrase de Concert," the Opus 48 "Union." The other end of the survey is occupied by Frederic Rzewski with a recording of "Down by the Riverside" from his North American Ballads collection.

 

Where technique is concerned, Slotchiver does a far-more-than-creditable job of managing the superposition of familiar tunes in Gottschalk's "Union." I just hope she had fun playing it, since it is difficult to listen to that piece without at least chortling. On the other hand I was a bit concerned that, by paying too much attention to technique, Slotchiver may have smoothed over some of the sharper edges of the Rzewski selection. This was unabashedly political music that deserved more than just a "faithful keyboard account."

 

Taken as a whole, however, the album is a valuable reference resource; and, for the most part, it makes an excellent case for music that deserves more attention in the "standard repertoire" than has been accorded to date.

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