BERNARD RANDS (b.1934): 3 Espressioni, Memo 5 (Ursula Oppens), 12 Preludes, Impromptu (Robert Levin), Espressione IV for 2 Pianos.
Catalogue Number: 01P072
Description: The main work here is the 2007 set of twelve Preludes, a wholly convincing suite of diverse character pieces. Unlike the Espressione pieces from the 1960s, which are more consciously responses to the prevailing modernist trends of the time, these preludes frequently allude to tonal centers, though in a considerably extended sense. An unorthodox approach to pianistic virtuosity (also explored to an extreme degree in the 1975 Memo 5, with its extraordinarily dense textures and sonorities) makes some of these pieces especially challenging, though conventional toccata-like propulsive figuration also puts in an appearance. These complex pieces are offset by elegiac in memoriam pieces, with long-breathed, meandering melodies punctuated by the sad chiming of bells in clear, bright chords. Even in the more open-textured pieces, the composer's constant use of uneven compound meters lends the works a kind of stimulating instability and unpredictability.