"This historic release couples George Crumb’s earliest work for piano, the Five Pieces for Piano (1962) with his most recent piano cycle, Metamorphoses (2017). Margaret Leng Tan has long been a champion of Crumb’s music, and he composed Metamorphoses (Book 1) for her. This recording is of the German premiere at the legendary Donaueschingen Festival in 2017.
Crumb’s Metamorphoses is a natural descendent of his monumental Makrokosmos I & II piano cycle of the early 1970s. With a nod to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, each movement of the Metamorphoses is inspired by a famous painting. And, like the Makrokosmos, it requires the pianist to be a virtuoso not only at the keyboard but playing inside the piano and vocalizing as well.
Ms. Tan is regarded at the 'Diva of the Toy Piano', and Crumb has also incorporated the toy piano and toy percussion instruments into some movements. Crumb says: “I have always been most fortunate to have had outstanding pianists who were willing to tackle the formidable technical and musical innovations in my scores. And among the very finest of these is Margaret Leng Tan for whom I wrote Metamorphoses (Book l). Margaret’s technical prowess and superb artistic sensitivity is a combination that must warm the heart of any composer!”
The album also includes the early Five Pieces for Piano. All the components of Crumb’s mature compositional language are already evident: a broad palette of coloristic effects along with an extraordinarily sensitive command of nuance, his unmistakable musical gestures, an inherent sense of drama coupled with a magical suspenseful atmosphere and a battery of interior piano effects demanding that the pianist be somewhat of a harpist and percussionist as well."