Recorded at the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York City from 1984 to 1992, this is a valuable collection of chamber music and solos by the wild and innovative Henry Cowell (1897-1965) who 'almost single-handedly laid the foundations for American compositional life'. Cowell is continually stretching limits, and was to be found inside the piano as often as playing on the keyboard. He invented piano clusters; Bartók asked Cowell permission to use them in his music!
Continuum is a leading American new music ensemble, dedicated to shock and surprise. Various artists take part in these Cowell discs, and my only significant reservation is that Mia Wu is a rather rough violinist in the Suite for Violin and Piano; Marilyn Dobow smoother in the attractive Set of Five with percussion and piano. An exilarating and 'continuously' entertaining roller-coaster ride with early iconoclasm, well worth Naxos' very few $s.
Copyright © 2005, Peter Grahame Woolf