Tomasz Sikorski, Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)

Posted By: Designol
Tomasz Sikorski, Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)

Tomasz Sikorski | Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)
pianos: Lutosławski Piano Duo, Joanna Duda, Mischa Kozłowski

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 279 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 182 Mb | Scans included
Contemporary Classical, Piano, Minimalism | Label: Bôłt | # BR 1026 | Time: 01:07:17

Unchained unites the work of two, at-first, seemingly disparate composers, Polands Tomasz Sikorski and the African-American Julius Eastman. However, both died age 49, Sikorski in 1988, Eastman in 1990, both led troubled lives that spiraled out of control, both are experiencing posthumous rediscovery and, most importantly, musically both can placed, albeit with different methodologies, in the minimalist camp. The titling of the works in Eastmans case are confronting, the music less so. Played by the Lutosawski Piano Duo (Emilia Sitarz and Bartek Wasik), Joanna Duda and Mischa Kozlowski.

When I heard the first track of this album, called "Evil Nigger", I was perplexed by its title, but even more by the music itself. The composer is Julius Eastman, an African American classical composer who passed away in 1990. It's a lenghty composition for four pianos, here performed by Emilia Sitarz, Bartek Wąsik, Joanna Duda and Mischa Kozłowski, and it's absolutely amazing for its strange combination of frivolity and darkness. It sounds light and repetitive, with phrases that move like long grass in the wind, almost dancing and joyful, only to come down again in dark rumbling chords full of dread and ill omen.

As the liner notes point out "Eastman could be called a maximalist, which is a strange type of minimalism", an interesting description but that's exactly how he sounds. The limited set of core themes and the repetitiveness are typical ingredients of minimalism, but at the same time Eastman makes it a very expansive composition, soaring almost.

The two shorter central tracks are by Polish composer Tomasz Sikorski, composed for two pianos, here played by Emilia Sitarz and Bartek Wąsik. Even if of a different nature, his style fits well with the end of "Evil Nigger" leading to a nice transition in calmer territory in which repetitive phrases are rhythmically juxtaposed, creating a strange sense of familiarity and surprise. "Diaphony For Two Pianos", the next piece, is more playful then shifts into quiet musings.

The album is book-ended on the other side by another long Eastman composition, called "Gay Guerrilla" (he clearly did not shy away from controversial titles), a piece that keeps a steady repetitive basis that changes in intensity, density, power and drama, alternating with a quiet vulnerability and sensitive responses.

In short, some of the music here is phenomenal, and a real find for someone like me who is relatively ignorant of classical music. And if you have any doubts that four grand pianos could play together in perfect interplay, doubt no longer. I will refrain from rating the album (who am I to evaluate classical music?), yet I can highly recommend it.

Review by Stef,

Tomasz Sikorski, Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)

Tomasz Sikorski, Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)

Emilia Sitarz, Bartek Wąsik, Joanna Duda, Mischa Kozłowski - pianos (1,4)
Lutosławski Piano Duo (Emilia Sitarz + Bartek Wąsik) - pianos (2-3)


Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
01. Evil Nigger (21:29)

Tomasz Sikorski (1939-1988)
02. Listening Music (9:29)
03. Diaphony (7:05)

Julius Eastman
04. Gay Guerrilla (29:14)

Exact Audio Copy V1.1 from 23. June 2015

EAC extraction logfile from 14. May 2016, 15:54

Various Artists / Unchained

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Delete leading and trailing silent blocks : No
Null samples used in CRC calculations : Yes
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Gap handling : Appended to previous track

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TOC of the extracted CD

Track | Start | Length | Start sector | End sector
1 | 0:00.00 | 21:28.74 | 0 | 96673
2 | 21:28.74 | 9:28.73 | 96674 | 139346
3 | 30:57.72 | 7:04.71 | 139347 | 171217
4 | 38:02.68 | 29:14.05 | 171218 | 302772

Track 1

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Track 3

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Track 4

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End of status report

==== Log checksum 5182D979A11E869976732559DA6D748990EB3BDEFAE4B4D28FCEDE7EC28C0E49 ====

foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2016-12-14 19:56:20

Analyzed: Emilia Sitarz, Bartek Wąsik, Joanna Duda, Mischa Kozłowski / Unchained (1-2)
Lutosławski Piano Duo / Unchained (3-4)

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
DR12 -0.01 dB -16.18 dB 21:29 01-Evil Nigger
DR12 -0.01 dB -15.99 dB 29:14 04-Gay Guerrilla
DR17 -3.93 dB -27.76 dB 9:29 02-Listening Music
DR12 -3.59 dB -21.21 dB 7:05 03-Diaphony

Number of tracks: 4
Official DR value: DR13

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 415 kbps
Codec: FLAC

Tomasz Sikorski, Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)

Tomasz Sikorski, Julius Eastman - Unchained (2014)