Gargoyles is a colorful and engaging set of four piano pieces resembling concert etudes by one of America's most promising young composers of its day. He has since gone on to fulfill that promise. He began studying piano at eight and composition at 14, and received his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. His composition teachers included David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti.
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Gargoyles is a colorful and engaging set of four piano pieces resembling concert etudes by one of America's most promising young composers of its day. He has since gone on to fulfill that promise. He began studying piano at eight and composition at 14, and received his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. His composition teachers included David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti. He wrote this piano set two years after finishing his doctorate.
In the s he went on to write acclaimed symphonies and concertos for such soloists as flutist James Galway and Stephen Hough. He is among the generation of American composers who left the old twelve-tone system behind and rediscovered the vitality of an extended use of tonality, freely using all the chromatic notes but generally remaining in contact with a sense of tonal center. As a longtime devotee of art and architecture, Liebermann joins many in being bemused by gargoyles, the representations of fantastic monsters that often embellish churches and other old buildings and are said to have been placed there to scare away evil spirits.
The title "Gargoyles" refers to the general mood of the set -- which is eerie and mysterious throughout and often scary and threatening -- but the individual pieces do not depict any particular real or imagined gargoyles. The piano style is rather similar to that of Sergey Prokofiev , although the harmonies are a bit more densely chromatic.
Altogether the piece runs about ten minutes. The first movement, Presto, is a devilish work at rapid speed with wide leaps, double notes, and quick, disorienting changes in touch and loudness. The whole effect is unsettled. The following Adagio semplice, ma con molto rubato, is a very Romantic piece in mood though the harmonies remain more modern , with repeated figures in the bass and a legato melody in octaves. Even more flowing and beautiful is the third movement, Allegro moderato.
Here a melody is embedded in a flowing, wave-like figure that both hands share. The finale is another movement at a flat-out tempo, Presto feroce. It is ferocious, a taxing and grotesque dance in the venerable Italian tarantella rhythm.
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Complete Excerpt. Roger Wright. Rasa Vitkauskaite. Yutong Sun. Celebration of the New American Composers. Albany Music Distribution. Joyce Yang. ABC Classics. Stephen Hough. American Flute. Centaur Records. Works by Bernstein, Danielpour, Lebermann, Smaldone. Michael Boriskin. New World Records. Alexander Djordjevic, Piano.
Alexander Djordjevic. Oksana Skidan. Lowell Liebermann: Piano Works, Vol. David Korevaar. The Piano Album, Vol. Reflections Rasa Vitkauskaite. Ongaku Naxos Collage Joyce Yang. Avie AV ABC Classics Virgin Centaur Records New World Records Alexander Djordjevic, Piano Alexander Djordjevic. Gargoyles Oksana Skidan. Koch
Lowell Liebermann - Gargoyles op. 29, no. 3
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Gargoyles, for piano Op.29
Gargoyles , Op. The score exemplifies Liebermann's modernist style, in which tonal harmony and expressive gestures grounded in tradition coexist with avant-garde procedures. The piece has become one of Liebermann's most popular efforts, receiving more than ten recordings. Many cathedral gargoyles portray grotesque faces with great humor, and Liebermann intends precisely that in his pieces, which have the mordant wit of Serge Prokofiev 's "bad boy" style in their ancestry. The following Adagio semplice , by contrast, is deeply introverted, presenting melancholy melodizing over patterns based on two alternating chords. Later, a still slower melody unfolds against repetitions of a single note.
Gargoyles, op. 29 by Lowell Liebermann