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Fantasy: Oppens Plays Kaminsky

Fantasy: Oppens Plays Kaminsky

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Pianist Ursula Oppens, stalwart champion of 20th- and 21st-century American music and recipient of multiple Grammy nominations and other honors, celebrates her decades-long friendship and professional association with composer Laura Kaminsky on an album of world-premiere recordings. The program includes two recent works written for the pianist: Kaminsky’s Piano Quintet, performed with the Cassatt String Quartet, “a concise work of considerable substance and atmosphere” (New York Classical Review) and the turbulent Reckoning: Five Miniatures for America for piano four-hands, with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, created expressly for this recording. A large-scale Fantasy for solo piano explores sonorities from French Impressionism to jazz. Oppens gave the New York premiere in 2017.

Kaminsky’s Piano Concerto was inspired by visual images of sunlit rivers in New York City and St. Petersburg, Russia, where Oppens gave the world premiere with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic led by its artistic director Jeffery Meyer. On this world-premiere recording, Meyer, who is also director of orchestras at Arizona State University, conducts the ASU Symphony Orchestra.


The solo piano Fantasy is just that, an imaginative fantasia piece that moves in unexpected directions at Kaminsky’s whim. A few hints of jazz rhythm come and go in it as well as a remarkable passage in which the two hands play completely different and opposing lines against each other. Interestingly, this Fantasy is longer than the entire Piano Quintet and only eight seconds shorter than the entire Piano Concerto that ends the disc. More and different permutations follow within that time span, all of them unexpected and interesting. These performances, all first recordings of these works, are all excellent, which helps us to appreciate Kaminsky’s sound world. Highly recommended.

– The Art Music Lounge

Titan of the contemporary keyboard, Ursula Oppens is a rarity among artists living today. She is the stalwart bearer of a mid-century musical torch that apparently burns eternal. How fortunate we are to have such musicians as Oppens still making music with fortitude, passion and tireless faith.

Oppens wields her piano at the album’s centre, steering a varied vessel with consistent skill and surety. Even in brief piano passages, as she peeks out from dense ensemble material, Oppens’ artistry sings unmistakably. The 20-minute solo Fantasy (2010) should be considered a tour de force in and of itself. When it comes to a career such as Oppens’, dedication and staying power carry the day. May she always urge us to listen close and listen well, ever compelling our ears toward the future.

-- The WholeNote

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 09, 2021

  • UPC: 735131920223

  • Catalog Number: CDR 202

  • Label: Cedille

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Laura Kaminsky

  • Conductor: Jeffery Meyer

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Arizona State University Orchestra, Cassatt String Quartet

  • Performer: Jerome Lowenthal, Ursula Oppens


  1. Piano Quintet

    Composer: Laura Kaminsky

    Ensemble: Cassatt String Quartet

    Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano)

  2. Fantasy

    Composer: Laura Kaminsky

    Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano)

  3. Reckoning: 5 Miniatures for America

    Composer: Laura Kaminsky

    Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Jerome Lowenthal (Piano)

  4. Piano Concerto

    Composer: Laura Kaminsky

    Ensemble: Arizona State University Orchestra

    Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano)

    Conductor: Jeffrey Meyer