Pianist Clipper Erickson: Tableau Tempest & Tango — watch the interview
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Watch my interview with Clipper Erickson about his groundbreaking 2 CD set My Cup Runneth Over: The Complete Piano Music of R. Nathaniel Dett.
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On the heels of his groundbreaking 2015 recording My Cup Runneth Over: The Complete Piano Music of R. Nathaniel Dett American pianist Clipper Erickson has released another 2 CD set on Navona (NV6170) Tableau Tempest & Tango with repertoire by three disparate composers - Modest Mussorgsky, David Finko and Richard Brodhead - all of whom share a collective kindred spirit and narrative souvenance with the Russian psyche and its subtexts.
A refreshing interpretative pace animates Erickson’s carefully calibrated but sublimely intuitive performance of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition which occupies most of one disc. True to the composer’s exact written intent on the page, Erickson also uncovers inner passageways and characterful sound cameos throughout the work’s 16 painterly episodes. Constellations of scholarly revelation and Freudian insight pepper the discourse. Hailed already as a definitive interpretation, Erickson has earned rightful kudos from critics including David Canfield at Fanfare Archive: “A superior recording, worthy to stand alongside the best of the many fine recordings of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.”
Russian expatriate David Finko and American Richard Brodhead are unexpected points of light illuminating Tableau Tempest & Tango. A credit to Clipper Erickson’s artistic sixth sense, Finko’s music - a sweeping and inventive Fantasia on a Russian Theme and three extraordinarily tight and flawlessly conceived piano sonatas including the Third Sonata composed for Erickson in 2009 - brings depth, focus, structure and human empathy to the Tableau Tempest & Tango set. Alluring for its often melancholic but intimate beauty, Finko’s music explores dark topics like Stalin’s systematic murder of the Russian intelligentsia (Sonata No. 1, Solomon Mikhoels) with stark, open-eyed malaise but enpoweriing courage. Finko is a survivor and his music strengthens the soul.
American composer Richard Brodhead has two works on the Tableau set, Sonata Notturna - Piano Sonata No. 2 composed for Erickson in 2016 and Una Carta de Buenes Aires - Tango Sonatina For Piano. Though he hasn’t the Russian blood provenance of Mussorgsky and Finko, there is nevertheless a hypnotic synergy of temperament between Brodhead and his colleagues that Erickson explores with superb technical, interpretive and intellectual relish. The longest single piece on the Tableau set Sonata Notturna is a universe of night-centered shadow and vaporous color. Erickson is at home as well in the focused meditation, pointillist articulation, spatiality and mystery that is Brodhead’s Tango Sonatina. Sound engineering throughout this diverse and fascinating 2 CD Tableau Tempest & Tango set is perfection.
Daniel Kepl | Performing Arts Review
Daniel Kepl interviews pianist Clipper Erickson
Clipper Erickson - Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade I and Gnomus, Sonata No. 1 - Burlesco
Promenade V and the Marketplace at Limoges from Pictures at an Exhibition
David Finko - Fantasia on Medieval Russian Theme