From composer Frederic Rzewski and pianist Daan Vandewalle comes this rousing tribute to political struggle—and not a moment too soon! Too often, emotional uplift and political subversion walk separate paths in the arts; but in these days of resurgent authoritarianism, the impulses need to be united. On that score, Rzewski’s composition is perfect: it lifts the spirit without letting it off the hook.
Protest songs from around the world are gathered together, as if at one large rally. They include “Soldiers of the Moor,” written by concentration camp inmates, and the beautiful American civil rights anthem “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Rzewski and Vandewalle take these works as points of departure, transforming them without for a moment betraying their moral or historical meaning. Beneath the eclecticism, the improvisation and the avant-garde elements remains the core, grounding impulse of each of these works: to drive the struggle of the powerless against the powerful.
If the political movement that saw its birth after [Trump’s election] is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender for the role.