Omri Shimron: "The People United Will Never Be Defeated​!​" {36 Variations on "¡EI Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido​!​"}

by Omri Shimron

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about

Writing about Rzewski's iconic solo piano work, "The People United Shall Never Be Defeated", pianist Ralph van Raat writes that "[T]he extensive duration of... [the] 36 variations is a way of symbolizing the human struggle for change." Pianist Omri Shimron's contribution to the recorded discography of this epic piece brings with it a personal connection that informs, in direct and indirect ways, his interpretation and our ability to see this monumental work in a new light. Shimron, during his study of Rzewski's work, came upon a revelatory discovery -- the Chilean Marxist song that is the basis of the 36 variations in the piece bears an uncanny similarity to a Zionist song his parents were familiar with from their childhoods in pre-1948 Palestine, "Blessing of the People." Shimron's parents immediately recognized the shared characteristics of the two songs, and the whole family became increasingly intrigued by the commonalities between songs of solidarity from different ideological movements halfway across the world. Rzewski's work in fact also references two other Marxist songs from pre-war Germany and Italy. The affinity with the fourth Zionist song led Shimron to decide to base his original cadenza for the piece on the Zionist melody. His approach to the cadenza is nuanced however, treating the melody with a certain degree of circumspection about the erosion of both the Zionist dream and the movement's original ideals. Like many post-modern compositions, The People United is highly referential, drawing explicit and implicit allusions to composers such as Webern (Var.1), Chopin (Var. 9), Stockhausen (Var. 10), Reich (Var. 27), Shostakovich (Var. 28), and Bartók (Var. 29). The wide net cast throughout the piece, both in terms of musical references and extra musical ideological associations, makes The People United a persistently topical and compelling vehicle for powerfully personal interpretations and thought provoking listening experiences. By bringing in a new dimension catalyzed by familial associations and history, Shimron's account allows us to reconsider not just this piece, but also the nature of music of solidarity, both in its folk and concert incarnations.

credits

released July 10, 2014

Producer and editor: Gavin Chuck
Recording engineer: Jeff Francis Mix
Mastering engineer: Clay Stevenson
Piano technician: Randy Rentz
CD design: Christopher Lorch
Photos: PikiWiki, Wikimedia Commons
Sheet music by Zen-On
Steinway piano Recorded in August 2012 at the University of South Carolina School of Music.
Mixed and mastered at the Elon University Music Department Recording Studio.

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New Focus Recordings New York, New York

New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director) and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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