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

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Pianist Omri Shimron releases an incisive and personal account of Frederic Rzewski's iconic variations set on a Chilean Marxist anthem, "The People United Will Never be Defeated." Shimron's version includes his own cadenza based on Zionist Marxist songs, linking Rzewski's

Audio

# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 61:18
01Theme. With Determination
Theme. With Determination
01:35
02Var. 1. Weaving: delicate but firm
Var. 1. Weaving: delicate but firm
01:04
03Var. 2. With firmness
Var. 2. With firmness
01:01
04Var. 3. Slightly slower, with expressive nuances
Var. 3. Slightly slower, with expressive nuances
01:17
05Var. 4. Marcato
Var. 4. Marcato
01:11
06Var. 5. Dreamlike, frozen
Var. 5. Dreamlike, frozen
01:10
07Var. 6. Same tempo as beginning
Var. 6. Same tempo as beginning
01:22
08Var. 7. Tempo (lightly, impatiently)
Var. 7. Tempo (lightly, impatiently)
01:06
09Var. 8. With agility; not too much pedal; crisp
Var. 8. With agility; not too much pedal; crisp
01:30
10Var. 9. Half = 48. Evenly
Var. 9. Half = 48. Evenly
01:14
11Var. 10. Comodo, recklessly
Var. 10. Comodo, recklessly
01:09
12Var. 11. Tempo I. Fragments of an absent melody - in strict time
Var. 11. Tempo I. Fragments of an absent melody - in strict time
00:51
13Var. 12
Var. 12
01:29
14Var. 13. Quarter = 72, or slightly faster
Var. 13. Quarter = 72, or slightly faster
02:00
15Var. 14. A bit faster, optimistically
Var. 14. A bit faster, optimistically
01:28
16Var. 15. Flexible, like an improvisation
Var. 15. Flexible, like an improvisation
01:30
17Var. 16. Same tempo as preceding, with fluctuations; much pedal
Var. 16. Same tempo as preceding, with fluctuations; much pedal
01:51
18Var. 17. L.H. strictly, half = 36; R.H. freely, roughly as in space
Var. 17. L.H. strictly, half = 36; R.H. freely, roughly as in space
01:17
19Var. 18. Quarter = 72
Var. 18. Quarter = 72
01:59
20Var. 19. With energy
Var. 19. With energy
00:50
21Var. 20. Crisp, precise
Var. 20. Crisp, precise
00:42
22Var. 21. Relentless, uncompromising
Var. 21. Relentless, uncompromising
01:03
23Var. 22. Quarter = 132
Var. 22. Quarter = 132
00:50
24Var. 23. As fast as possible, with some rubato
Var. 23. As fast as possible, with some rubato
00:33
25Var. 24. Quarter = 72
Var. 24. Quarter = 72
02:38
26Var. 25. Quarter = ca. 84
Var. 25. Quarter = ca. 84
02:02
27Var. 26. Quarter = 168. In a millitant manner
Var. 26. Quarter = 168. In a millitant manner
01:22
28Var. 27. Tenderly, and with a hopeful expression
Var. 27. Tenderly, and with a hopeful expression
05:36
29Var. 28. Quarter = 160
Var. 28. Quarter = 160
01:28
30Var. 29. Quarter = 144-152
Var. 29. Quarter = 144-152
00:36
31Var. 30
Var. 30
02:54
32Var. 31
Var. 31
01:09
33Var. 32
Var. 32
01:08
34Var. 33
Var. 33
01:17
35Var. 34
Var. 34
01:15
36Var. 35
Var. 35
01:20
37Var. 36
Var. 36
01:46
38Cadenza
Cadenza
03:18
39Theme. Tempo I
Theme. Tempo I
03:27

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.

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.

Omri Shimron

Omri Shimron is a pianist and educator based in Greensboro, NC. Highlights from the past decade include a performance of Michael Quell's 'anisotropie' at the Soundscape/Pavia festival (Italy), a performance of Crumb's Eine kleine Mitternachtmusik, a recording of David Lipten's Whorl on the Ablaze label, the premiere of Five Reflections on the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam by Christopher Dietz, and the NC premiere of Clint Borzoni's A Live Oak Growing. He has also worked closely with several living composers, including Christopher Brakel, Marco Alunno, Ben Hackbarth, Lori Laitman, and Daniel Asia. Shimron is on faculty at the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival and is a frequent guest and clinician in colleges and universities from Arizona to Jerusalem. He is an associate professor at the Elon University Music Department and has previously taught at Hillsdale College (MI) and Eastern Mediterranean University in northern Cyprus.

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