The 1972 volume I of George Crumb’s MAKROKOSMOS is a mature work for amplified piano composed by the venerable American avant-gardist in his early forties, when the Pulitzer Prize for Music and other recognitions were still off in the distant future, awaiting him as just rewards for his tenacity writing music – his kind of music – against all odds.

Structured as a loosely knit assemblage of musical miniatures – Crumb labeled them “twelve fantasy pieces” – each embodying the characteristics of the dozen divine and mortal beings that give their names to the Zodiac signs, the work explores the myriad sonorities of the amplified piano in music now mysterious, now playful, and always intriguing, thanks to Crumb’s inexhaustible imagination and compositional skills.

Crumb steadfastly shunned the pedantic inflexibility of serial music, embracing instead a free-wheeling and pleasantly consonant idiom, and Nic Gerpe gives it a superbly played reading that checks all of the boxes of Crumb’s multi-faceted 20th century classic.

The 2022 Makrokosmos 50 Project similarly to Crumb’s 20th century classic employs the works of a dozen immensely accomplished composers: Vera Ivanova, Fernanda Aoki Navarro, Gernot Wolfgang, Eric Guinivan, Nic Gerpe, Alexander Elliott Miller, Viet Cuong, Julie Herndon, Gilda Lyons, Timothy Peterson, Juhi Bansal, and Thomas Osborne.

Ranging in style from the Eastern-inspired colors of Vera Ivanova’s Karkata, to the intricately contrapuntal Crumbling of Fernanda Aoki Navarro, to the tranquil lyricism of Austrian American composer Gernot Wolfgang’s The Patience of Water, to Eric Guinivan’s Signal – a bright work for prepared piano – to pianist, producer, and composer Nic Gerpe’s The Ghost of the Manicore – a boldly dramatic toccata – to Alexander Elliott Miller’s evocative The Celestial Crown, to the lovely Scaling Back by the young Vietnamese American Viet Cuong, to the novel work for amplified piano Circle of by Julie Herndon, to the defiantly inventive The Transcendence of Time by Gilda Lyons, with its irreverent human sounds barging into the instrumental ones, to the mercurial Aries by Timothy Peterson, to the rhapsodic …through cracked mirrors by the Indian composer, conductor and educator Juhi Bansal, and on to the superb closing Supernova of Thomas Osborne, the recording provides an impressive cross-section of some of today’s finest composers of new music. Nic Gerpe shows enormous pianistic versatility by beautifully playing all twelve works.

Recorded, edited and mastered by Matthew Snyder, Allegro Recordings, Burbank, CA; produced by Matthew Snyder and Nic Gerpe, and copyrighted by Nic Gerpe, this impressively curated recording will be available for digital download and streaming from Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Qobuz and other digital service providers starting on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. The video version of the album will premiere on YouTube on March 19, and will stay on that service as a streaming option for people to view. A limited number of CDs will soon be available on the project website

Rafael de Acha © 2023

Gernot Wolfgang – Still Waters (2009) – Nic Gerpe, Pianist – YouTube

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