With SOLO PIANO, Glass presents himself "unplugged" - no electronic keyboards or synthesizers, and no overdubs, either - just solo piano. Here, Glass' connection to the established "classical" tradition is most evident. Though his pieces are "minimal" (subtly altered repeated patterns or melodic motifs), yet they have an unsentimental beauty and heartfelt grace that one would hear in J.S. Bach's English Suites, as well as the piano music of Chopin and Erik Satie.
Korean-born but a political exile in Germany for the last 25 years of his life, Isang Yun (1917-1995) managed to create a workable synthesis between western and eastern traditions, which fused a musical language based upon the total serialism of the post-war avant garde with elements drawn from both Korean and Chinese traditional styles. The three pieces here, all composed in the 1980s, show just how expressively effective that synthesis could be. In the First Chamber Symphony, it allows Yun to create a richly cushioned sound-world, full of shimmering textures, hazy microtones and supple, swooping gestures, while the rich string layering and urgent melodic writing of Tapis and the evocations of the sound of the Chinese harp in Gong-Hu, for solo harp and string orchestra, create music that is instantly attractive, even if the details of its inner workings are not always obvious.
Dave McKenna made a remarkably piano solo debut in 1955 with the fifteen tunes he recorded for ABC Paramount (1-15). The remaining tracks on this compilation also come from a solo album, one he cut almost eight years later for the label Realm. Playing without a rhythm section, a key challenge for a jazz pianist, McKenna accomplished a recital of lasting value and pleasure. He plays with strength, individuality, fine beat and technique, and constant taste in all tempos. He is a wonderfully co-ordinated two-handed pianist.
The thirty-five CDs that make up the present boxed set are designed to acquaint listeners with one of the most important pianists of the 20th century or, if they are already familiar with his work, to allow them to rediscover it anew. Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) was the final representative of the great tradition of German pianists that also included Artur Schnabel (1882-1951) and Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969). Of the three, Kempff had by far the longest career - he gave his last public concert in 1982.