Label: Vanguard Classics (ATM-CD-1558)
Michael Hersch, piano / Daniel Gaisford, cello
Release Date: 2004
"... a natural musical genius who continues to surpass himself."
— Tim Page (The Washington Post)
"He plays his own spare transcriptions of works by 15th century master Josquin des Prés, as well as Morton Feldman’s chilly “Piano Piece (for Philip Guston)”, the moody silences and sometimes gauzy, sometimes jangly textures of which he articulates with imposing power. In Wolfgang Rihm’s “Auf einem anderen Blatt”, Hersch’s palette ranges from diaphanous, petal-soft tones to startlingly metallic stabs. Of greatest interest are Hersch’s “Milosz Fragments”, inspired by the Nobel laureate’s poems and based on the composer’s 2003 work, the wreckage of flowers, and his Sonata No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello. Daniel Gaisford brings the latter to life with astonishing virtuosity and a haunted lyricism ideally suited to Hersch’s somber muse. “Milosz Fragments” finds Hersch at his most tortured, traversing landscapes of uncompromising bleakness. An immensely rewarding disc."
— Time Out NY
“Hersch’s compositions, frequently singled out for their dark emotional intensity, should not be misconstrued as gothically despairing; more accurately, they fall in line with the stark spiritual introspection of Ingmar Bergman’s landmark films. ... this collection strikes a remarkable balance. Nothing feels forced to fit here, and it is to Hersch’s credit that his own works stand so strongly among such talented company. Excepting the cello sonata performed by Daniel Gaisford, Hersch himself is at the piano throughout. Both men perform with a palpable intensity... If one had to guess just by listening, Hersch did more than program this recording for commercial effect. Rather it’s as if he is writing a profoundly personal letter to the listener in which he shares much of both his intellectual and emotional self.”
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Hersch is known as one of the world’s leading young composers. This stark, introspective program, ranging from transcriptions of fifteenth-century giant Josquin des Prés to Hersch’s own Milosz Fragments, highlights his equally remarkable gifts as a pianist.”
— New York Newsday – Best of Year 2004