The people united have never sounded so powerful

The people united have never sounded so powerful

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

November 11, 2022

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The American composer Frederic Rzewski, living in Italy until his death last year, was prompted by the 1973 overthrow of Chilean president Salvador Allende to compose 36 variations on the fallen regime’s populist campaign song, El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido.

Despite lasting almost an hour and containing episodes of atonal fury, the piece was quickly and frequently recorded, first in 1976 by its dedicatee Ursula Oppens and latterly by the German pianist Igor Levit. In all, there are a dozen recordings. None has captured my attention so compellingly as this new release…

Read on here.

And here.

En francais ici.

In The Critic here.


  • Joel Stein says:

    IMO there is no recording that matches the composers-and as an added treat listen to Rzweski’s Hammerklavier.

  • ira says:

    how does it compare with rzewski’s own performance?

  • MacroV says:

    I love Marc-Andre Hamelin’s recording of about 25 years ago. It’s a great piece.

  • William Osborne says:

    Unfortunate to refer to Allende’s government as a regime. He was a democratically elected physician and social democrat along the lines of Bernie Sanders and essentially every other leader of developed democracies in the world except the USA. In Chile, he established the first national health service in the Western hemisphere. He nationalized Chile’s natural resources so that the profits from them would go to the country’s people instead of foreign corporations. The CIA thus organized a coup in which Allende was murdered (though a cover up was made by portraying his death as a suicide) and the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet put in power.

    As an interesting historical aside, when Allende was a member of the Chilean congress in 1938 he sent a telegram to Adolf Hitler denouncing the persecution of Jews after the Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Dictators from the left or the right are still dictators; whether in uniform or taking the money you earned at huge risk and giving it to somebody else.

  • Greg says:

    One thing I can say: Leftists have the best tunes.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    May I offer a dissenting voice? This piece is far too long and repetitive for its content; I’ve seen it (ridiculously IMO) compared with both the Goldberg Variations and the Diabellis – it’s an interesting – but flawed – work at best. A case of wishful hearing perhaps.