I missed this last week -- Marc Swed reviews Rzewksi in Pomona:
Half an hour later, this small man, hair mussed, walked onto the stage of Bridges Hall, the jewel-box small theater at Pomona College three blocks away. No more than 40 people were in the audience.
Rzweski's appearance at Pomona, for which admission was free, came with little advance word and no publicity. That might seem an outrage, given that Rzewski (whose name is pronounced Schev-ski), a 68-year-old American expatriate who has long lived in Brussels, doesn't come to the West Coast often, although his music is often played by the EAR Unit. He was finishing up a tour of small colleges, many in the Midwest, where he was probably just as ignored as in Pomona. But somehow the circumstances of the appearance seemed apt for an outsider artist with strong political convictions.
Less a Beethoven, perhaps, than a latter-day leftist Liszt, Rzewski is also our anti-Liszt. He refuses to play the celebrity or music industry game. He operates as a hit-and-run artist, usually gone before you know what hit you.
Rzewski is devoted to social change, to the struggle of the people against oppressive government, and often he takes off from a popular political melody, as in "The People United." But although he may look like an anarchist of old, his music is a deep and meaningful meditation on freedom and structure.
He is an inspired improviser while, at the same time, a control freak. And his middle way, where both approaches are in dialogue, is a brilliant manipulation of forces that can pull apart not just modern music but society. Oh, and he also gets some of the most thrilling sonorities from the piano I have ever heard.
But why hasn't an enterprising soloist and orchestra tried out the extravagant new cadenza in a performance of Beethoven's popular Fourth Concerto? Why isn't the seven-disc Nonesuch set of Rzewski playing his music that came out four years ago more widely appreciated for being one of the landmark recordings of American music? Why wasn't he engaged to play at a major Los Angeles venue on this tour?
If not a non sequitur, Rzewski's anonymity Sunday was, at the very least, weird.