American Piano Classics

Author: 
Guest

American Piano Classics

  • Prelude
  • Blues
  • Varied Air and Variations
  • Study No. 21, 'Some Southpaw Pitching'
  • (The) Anti-Abolitionist Riots
  • Three Page Sonata
  • Sonata for Piano No. 2, 'Concord, Mass.: 1840-60', The Alcotts
  • Erroll's Blues
  • Erroll's Bounce
  • Variations
  • (4) Piano Blues, Soft and languid (1934)
  • (4) Piano Blues, Muted and sensuous (1948)
  • Monk's Point
  • Round Midnight
  • (A) Damsel in Distress, A Foggy Day
  • Oh, Kay!, Fidgety Feet
  • Girl Crazy, But not for me
  • Prelude
  • Blues
  • Varied Air and Variations
  • Study No. 21, 'Some Southpaw Pitching'
  • (The) Anti-Abolitionist Riots
  • Three Page Sonata
  • Sonata for Piano No. 2, 'Concord, Mass.: 1840-60', The Alcotts
  • Erroll's Blues
  • Erroll's Bounce
  • Variations
  • (4) Piano Blues, Soft and languid (1934)
  • (4) Piano Blues, Muted and sensuous (1948)
  • Monk's Point
  • Round Midnight
  • (A) Damsel in Distress, A Foggy Day
  • Oh, Kay!, Fidgety Feet
  • Girl Crazy, But not for me

After a miserable evening listening to below-par performances of much-recorded repertoire this came as a real tonic—by no standards could this programme be called 'much-recorded', and the playing is distinctly above-par.
The sequence of works is effective in itself, five chunks of Ives surrounding Copland's Piano Variations, with pieces in 'popular' idioms setting off those meatier items. I am not qualified to pronounce on the faithfulness of Joanna MacGregor's Garner and Monk transcriptions, but they seem thoroughly stylish and Erroll's Bounce certainly had my foot tapping. Getting on the wavelength of Michael Finnissy's Gershwin arrangements has proved more difficult and the Blues pieces are hardly the best of Copland. Nancarrow's Prelude and Blues are ideal as curtainraisers, however—it is good to hear his music on something other than his customized honky-tonk pianolas and forced to operate within the limitations of a live performer's ten fingers and one brain. It remains as zany and uninhibited as ever, with a typically abrupt conclusion to Prelude, and it helps the listener to tune in to a vernacular which owes as much to Cowell, Antheil and James 9. Johnson (I thought I'd get in some requests in case LDR are considering follow-ups) as to Ives.
Copland's 12-note-without-tears Variationsare played with a strong sense of atmosphere and a good ear for texture, although the later variations show up some limitations at the virtuoso end of things and No. 6 is rhythmically awry. The last page of Ives's ''Alcotts'' is not too happy either, but the homespun lyricism of the movement is well conveyed and MacGregor sets exactly the right mystical tone for The anti-abolitionist riots. She sorts out the intricacies of the remaining Ives pieces superbly. I do wish, though, that Ives recordings would specify exactly what text they use—an Ives Urtext is virtually a contradiction in terms and these performances are nothing like my Kirkpatrick-edited scores of the Three-page Sonata and Some southpaw pitching.
First-rate piano sound and a warm-toned instrument, never pushed beyond its limits—all in all an extremely enjoyable issue.'

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019