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Joseph Kubera has been an eloquent champion of new music for more than three decades, recording works by experimentalists from Cage and Cowell to Alvin Lucier and Roscoe Mitchell. As Amy C Beal remarks in her booklet essay, he has a rare ability ‘to conquer the most difficult music, and to simply reveal its great beauty through his care for it’. That care is evident here: Kubera’s impressively nuanced readings uncover the beauty implicit in these four compositions, two written specifically for him (the Byron and Tyranny), plus two others making their first appearance on record.

The latter pair require extensive input by Kubera. Stuart Saunders Smith’s brief Fences, in Three Tragedies asks that ‘the dynamics, tempos and articulations should be composed by the performer’; and Julius Eastman’s Piano 2 has ‘no meters, bar lines or tempo indications’, though Kubera still discovers an echo of the ferociously exciting four-piano works on Eastman’s Unjust Malaise CD, especially in the third movement’s insistent, driving patterns.

‘Blue’ Gene Tyranny’s The Drifter appeared in a partial ‘free reading’ on the composer’s own Take Your Time CD; Kubera plays the complete version, a 14-minute lyrical excursion through subtle harmonic transformations – its form inspired by rows of mysterious quartz pillars at an ancient Tibetan site. Michael Byron’s 27-minute title track alternates movements of agitated complexity with a more leisurely, lightly ruffled lushness; Kubera finds the beauty there, too, even in the former’s ‘difficult’ asymmetrical counterpoint.

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing