Powerhouse Pianists Deliver Once Again

I haven’t heard the original Powerhouse Pianists album, but after listening to this release, I’ll be searching it out. This release features the same type of programming as the first Powerhouse Pianists, although it can be enjoyed on its own merits.

Pianists Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen present a collection of contemporary works that push the boundaries the piano duo — and not always in the way one might expect.

Robert Paterson’s Deep Blue Ocean, for example, is an extended work that I can only describe as impressionistic minimalism. It’s impressionistic in terms of its harmonic coloration and the way it evokes the motion of the water a la Debussy’s La Mer. It’s minimalist in terms of its driving — and sometimes — unrelenting rhythm.

Some major composers are represented. John Corigliano’s quarter-tone work Chiaroscuoro, and John Adam’s ground-breaking Hallelujah Junction are both present.

Frederic Rzewski utilizes the rumbling, intense power of two concert grands hammering away in the lower register to represent factory machinery in his “Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues” (before momentarily desolving into some languid blues).

Also included are engaging works from Mary Ellen Childs, Doug Opel, and Amanda Harberg — all equal in quality to the aforementioned compositions.

Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen are young performers, and they bring a take-no-prisoners attitude and youthful energy to this music. while the styles are widely different, the duo seems to bring out the best in each.

As I said — I’ll be looking for the first volume of this series.

Powerhouse Pianists II
Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen, piano duo
Robert Paterson: Deep Blue Ocean; Doug Opel: Dilukkenjon; Amanda Harberg: Subway; Mary Ellen Childs: Kilter; John Corigliano: Chiaroscuro; John Adams: Hallelujah Junction; Frederic Rzewski:  Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
American Modern Recordings, AMR 1039

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