There is no string quartet that has ever been written that can compare length and diversity with Terry Riley's Salome Dances for Peace. Morton Feldman has written a longer one, but it is confined to his brilliant field of notational relationships and open tonal spaces. Riley's magnum opus, which dwarfs Beethoven's longest quartet by three, is a collection of so many different kinds of music, many of which had never been in string quartet form before and even more of which would – or should – never be rubbing up against one another in the same construct. Riley is a musical polymath, interested in music from all periods and cultures: there are trace elements of jazz and blues up against Indian classical music, North African Berber folk melodies, Native American ceremonial music, South American shamanistic power melodies – and many more. The reason they are brought together in this way is for the telling of an allegorical story. In Riley's re-examining Salome's place in history, he finds a way to redeem both her and the world through her talent.
This disc contains two works that have been newly recorded. And they are strange works indeed. During the late 1930s Prokofiev wrote three pieces based on works of Pushkin – incidental music for a production of Pushkin's play, Boris Godunov; incidental music for a stage production of his Eugene Onegin; and music for The Queen of Spades. The latter was never finished and never produced, largely because of a change in attitudes from Stalin's government about what art works should focus on. As for the 1950 oratorio 'On Guard for Peace', the less said the better. This is one of those god-awful patriotic oratorios that Stalin's apparatchiks ordered by the yard from the country's composers. This one extols Stalin and the Soviet state, and recalls the sacrifices of WWII. History notes and lyrics in Russian and English can be found in the booklet.
This particular CD is an exception to these rules: This is a straight reissue of a live album, recorded in 1990 in Zagreb, Croatia. Also, Drew is accompanied by George Mraz on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. The fact that the rhythm section inspired Drew on stage is apparent from the burning-hot opening track "Autumn Leaves." This is a very exciting live album!