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Nonesuch’s longtime President Bob Hurwitz took semi-retirement in 2017. These 11 new piano pieces by label artists are performed by four solo pianists, and at John Adams’ suggestion, are at accomplished amateur level – so that Hurwitz could play them. Several are minimalist-influenced.

John Adams’ title-composition is a lilting, dance-like theme and variations. Steve Reich’s ‘For Bob’ features characteristically insistent four-against-three rhythms and rich chords, but is unusual in his output in being non- canonic. Tedious figurations and predictable harmonies of Louis Andriessen’s witty ‘Rimsky or LaMonte Young’ satirise Czerny exercises.

The eerie filigree of Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘Her Wits (About Him)’ produces a hypnotic effect. Randy Newman’s ‘Recessional’ is a mock-heroic march, grand gestures undermined by minute scales. Outstanding are two jazz compositions interpreted by Brad Mehldau – his own plangent ‘L.A. Pastorale’, and Pat Metheny’s ‘42 Years’, whose beautifully strong, rich melody inspires the most memorable improvisation from a master of the art. The elegiac, Country-inflected theme seems to come from deep in the history of American popular music – reminding me to add Metheny to the long list of neglected jazz composers.

I’m not normally a fan of commemorative collections, but I Still Play stands out as a fine set of performances.

ANDY HAMILTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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