Released in honor of Berger's 90th birthday year, this is the first CD to unite all solo piano music of the venerated American composer on one release, and includes premiere recordings of several works written over the last 70 years. Berger's music projects a strikingly original synthesis of his own sonic and aesthetic vision with a multiplicity of influences, including jazz, Stravinsky, Copland, and Schoenberg. This project received support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.
Centaur Records, Catalog Number: CRC 2593, released in 2002
“It's too bad the composer Arthur Berger had to wait till he turned 90 last year to see a recording of his complete works for solo piano.
The Centaur label has filled that gap with a CD featuring Geoffrey Burleson, a top-notch pianist, and it was worth the wait, both for Mr. Berger and for anyone interested in vibrant contemporary piano music. The earliest works are products of a Bronx-born composer who has deftly fashioned an urbane voice from diverse enthusiasms. You hear traces of the Second Viennese School, pungent Coplandesque tonality and plenty of streets-of-New York jazziness. But just as these Neo-Classical works have some astringent atonal elements, the Five Pieces for Piano (1969), a rigorously 12-tone work, has Neo-Classical lucidity and shimmering harmonic radiance.”
“Mr. Burleson brings rhythmic brio, rich colorings and a resourceful technique to his accounts of these works. But what really draws you in is his palpable excitement over Mr. Berger's music.”
- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
“In its rhythmic cunning and unpredictability, Arthur Berger's music holds one's attention, with a restless fragmented style, tempi and metres constantly upturned...Berger's precise rhythmic pointing and independence of voices are singular. Geoffrey Burleson's agile, incisive performances make the strongest possible case for this music, and the disc gains by the pianist's own informed and comprehensive notes.”
- Lawrence A Johnson, Gramophone
“Berger’s piano music is a major strand in his work...it is written in several techniques, and sometimes styles as diverse as German Baroque, cheeky French charm, and advanced New York jazz coexist in different layers within the same piece. But all of it bears the unmistakable mark of the same quirky and indispensable personality, and all exhibits an elevated level of craftsmanship. None of his music outlives its welcome; it’s sparse but not austere because it has so many implications.”
“Burleson plays this music with assurance, color, character and devotion. His extensive experience in all kinds of music, including jazz, comes in handy here, and so does the precision of his ear. Burleson’s performances are full of playful insight, offered in tribute to the composer’s richly lived 90 years.”
- Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe