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Transcriptions for Digital Piano

A CD of familiar tunes re-worked for digital piano, taking advantage of features of that instrument.


Like a modern-day Nancarrow, Gordon Green takes advantage of technology, in this case, computer-generated MIDI sequences, to create torrents of piano sound that ten human fingers alone could not produce. Because Gordon's keyboard, a Yamaha Clavinova, is so realistic-sounding, and because Green is so tasteful in his handling of the material, the effect of this music is uncanny.  There are giddy moments when the listener is bombarded with relentless waves of notes, but there
are many passages when the effect is quite subtle. Remember the monster piano concerts a few years ago, featuring Gottschalk arrangements of potboilers for a dozen or so pianists? Green achieves a similar dense texture, but even if the recording engineers for the Gottschalk project were able to capture a less muddy sound (what a Herculean task they had!), I doubt the result would have been quite so elegant as what Green produces.

It helps immensely that Green is a skillful, even inspired composer. The major work on this program is the Variations on America the Beautiful, a twenty-minute lava flow of notes. Green constructed the set from thirty improvisations that he formed into seven variations. The dense harmonies and countermelodies sound much like Leopold Godowsky's super-virtuoso transcriptions of the Chopin Etudes. The Sousa Marches are especially a hoot. Green is not afraid to pepper these hackneyed tunes with dissonance, in the manner of Ives.

This CD is more than just a novelty item. Green has managed an impressive marriage of technology and art that can serve as a model for other explorers of the digital piano.

Peter Burwasser, Fanfare Magazine

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