Orange Mountain's new release Music 4 Hands presents new transcriptions for two pianos written and performed by Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa. Featured compositions are Philip Glass' 'Six Scenes from Les Enfants Terribles' and Steve Reich's 'Piano Phase.' Glass and Reich were leaders of a new music revolution in New York City in the 1960s and '70s that included Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Meredith Monk. In the years since then, the two composer's careers and music have greatly diverged, and it is rewarding to find a new record that celebrates them both. As both a soloist and a chamber musician, Maki Namekawa is equally at home in classical music and contemporary repertoire. She appears regularly at major concert venues in Japan and Europe. American pianist and conductor Dennis Russell Davies is chief conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra Linz and chief conductor of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra since 1995.
Like other great opera composers, much of Philip Glass’ finest music has been written for the theater and is known only to the theater-going public. While discussing with Philip the possibilities for a work for my piano duo with Maki Namekawa, I recalled the fun I had playing a suite from the opera Les Enfants Terribles with Philip and the conductor Dante Anzolini in its original scoring for three pianos. Philip gave his permission for Maki and me to select pieces from the opera and to re-score them for two pianos. We restricted ourselves to music that was mainly instrumental or with little independent vocal writing. The resulting “Six Scenes” was performed in celebration of Ars Electronica’s 25th Anniversary in New York and at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria in September 2004. I am very confident that this music substantially enriches the two-piano repertory – it certainly is fun to play.
Philip and Steve Reich were leaders of a new music revolution in New York City in the 1960’s and 70’s that included Terry Riley, Lamonte Young, and Meredith Monk. In the years since then their careers and music have greatly diverged, and it was rewarding to find, with Gerfried Stocker, a way to reconnect these two outstanding musicians for this production.
Steve’s Piano Phase is a seminal work of the modern repertory for two pianos. It is also the first work that Maki Namekawa and I rehearsed and performed together. I’ve come to the conclusion that Maki agreed to develop a two-piano repertory with me after I proved to her in this work that I was able to play (not just conduct) a steady tempo. The skill and discipline she demonstrates in achieving the subtle and complex accelerations of tempo are extraordinary. I make an admirable “straight man.”
— Dennis Russell Davies