Michael Hersch - The Vanishing Pavilions return to DISCOGRAPHY Page
Label: Vanguard Classics / Musical Concepts (MC-101)
[2 CD Box Set]
Michael Hersch, piano
Release Date: 2007
"The evening felt downright historic. [Hersch] conjured volcanic gestures from the piano with astonishing virtuosity. Everything unfolds in open-ended, haiku-like eruptions, though built on ideas that recur throughout the 50 movements, from a lamenting, chantlike melody to passages of such speed and density you'd think the complete works of Franz Liszt were played simultaneously within three minutes. Overtly or covertly, The Vanishing Pavilions is about the destruction of shelter (both in fact and in concept) and life amid the absence of any certainty. And though the music is as deeply troubled as can be, its restless directness also commands listeners not to be paralyzed by existential futility."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer (from the premiere performance)
"... he has composed one of the most unusual pieces in
memory: The Vanishing Pavilions for piano, a work in
two "books," as Hersch describes them, and taking
about two hours and twenty minutes to play. Apart from
his composing, Hersch is a brilliant pianist, and
there could be no better advocate of his own music.
... the work is barely fathomable: reflecting terror,
agony, wonder. I hesitate to describe it. It seems
both intensely personal and universal. It is
ferocious, desperate, manic; titanic, daunting,
world-containing; visionary, apocalyptic, inexorable.
You sometimes want to look away from it; it can be
terrible to contemplate. And yet you still heed it.
You sense that the piece is both reacting to this
world and striving for something beyond. I intend to
live with The Vanishing Pavilions for a while longer.
It has gotten under my skin, as it must; it has even
disturbed my sleep. A first hearing takes a
considerable amount of time, especially given the
lives so many of us now lead. But one hearing is
plainly insufficient. Michael Hersch has something to
say, and he bears listening to."
-- National Review (2007)
"This is music of raw, elemental gravity, which proceeds at its own unhurried pace. The music of each movement has an immediate, visceral impact; it sounds like it springs from, and speaks to, some deep, primordial place, unmediated by any system or even the niceties of compositional correctness. The variety that Hersch's tonal and gestural palette brings to each movement, as well as the music's restless, unpredictable rhythmic energy, commands the listener's attention. Hersch's performance is stunning in its vitality and virtuosity."