LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  July 2008

CLASSICAL July 2008

Subject:

Copland/Menotti Piano Concertos

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 18:52:40 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (91 lines)

Earl Wild
Modern Piano Concerti

*  Copland: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
*  Menotti: Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra*

Earl Wild, piano
Symphony of the Air/Aaron Copland, Jorge Mester*
Vanguard Classics VC3 Total time: 49:23
Available through Arkiv CD (http://www.arkivmusic.com)

Summary for the Busy Executive: Skyscrapers and Scarlatti.

ArkivMusic has quietly (and legally) restored to the catalogue thousands
of classic recordings the major labels have dropped.  I bought the
original Vanguard MONO LP of these concertos in my teens, mainly for the
Menotti.  I had seen a local production of The Medium which spurred me
to the Cleveland Public Library, where I checked out the score and the
recording with Marie Powers.  At that point, I really had little idea
of Menotti's place in the musical world, or even that he was thought of
as an opera specialist.  After all, hadn't he written this concerto?  I
quickly found out that people who knew something about music looked down
on him, but that didn't stop me from liking - a lot - what I heard.

It turns out that for most of his life, Menotti longed for a critical
success like those enjoyed by his friend Samuel Barber, while Barber
yearned for a popular success like Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors.
Menotti probably came closest to what he wanted with his violin concerto
(1952).  Still, I've always liked the 1945 piano concerto even more.
Formally, it's a bit of a mess, like a rumpled but favorite uncle, but
it doesn't seem to matter - at least not to me.  In its spirit and its
contrasts, as well as in the general shape of some of its themes, it
recalls very strongly Ravel's G-major concerto.  It's just not as elegant
or as brilliant a composition.  Few other pieces (by anybody) are.  What
it does have are tunes, tunes, tunes - memorable tunes, tunes that ravish
the ear, tunes that make you feel great, tunes that you find yourself
humming for days, months, and years afterwards.  The concerto proceeds
in a straightforward way, with quick sections framing and balancing
lyrical ones.  The first movement explodes into a fugato with exuberant
Scarlatti-like runs in the piano.  A song-like section follows, and we
end up with a recap. The slow movement is nine minutes of gorgeous,
melancholy song.  The finale - which I would call a rondo in a more
solidly-constructed work than this - builds up to a bring-'em-to-their-feet
ending.  Menotti may not be Brahms, but he might very well be Grieg, and
that's not nothing.

Of course, the Copland takes a much thornier approach, although it's
not without considerable humor.  However, where Menotti gives you the
impression of just singing the song that lives within him, Copland
consciously tries to carve out his own niche in Modernism.  An early
work (1926) written under the influence of both Stravinsky and Gershwin
(the Concerto in F appeared in 1925), it shows a young man's desire to
be taken seriously.  I don't know how the first audiences took it, but
it thrilled me from its opening bars.  Like the Gershwin concerto, it
shouts "New York!" from its first measures, with thrusting upward leaps
followed by soaring cantabile.  This is not the folky Copland of the
"American" ballets, but you recognize the composer nevertheless.  Jazz
was still in the air, and Copland at this stage explored it as a way of
writing characteristically American music.  He gave it up shortly
thereafter.  Copland divides the concerto into two related parts, played
without break, and writes extremely tersely.  Each note says a lot.
There's also a funny, jazz-vamp section, initiated by solo piano, with
a melody that foreshadows the 1944 Jule Styne song, "Poor Little Rhode
Island." It stands out so that you wonder whether Styne had ever heard
the Copland.  The soloist often gets to lurch into his part, as if drunk,
dull-witted, or simply not very good, but it's all written in and indeed
constitutes part of the rhythmic challenge of the concerto.

One associates Earl Wild with Liszt and Rachmaninoff, rather than with
modern music (other than Gershwin), but he turns in a marvelous performance
of both concerti.  The Menotti fizzes and sings with a light touch, and
Jorge Mester matches Wild with an accompaniment that sparkles.  My only
reservation is Copland and the Symphony of the Air.  Copland can't keep
the cross-rhythms in his own concerto quite together, and the orchestra
sounds in spots like they're holding on.  I did prefer Bernstein's
recording with Copland as soloist (Sony 60177 or 2-CD set Sony 47232;
the latter has a bunch of early Copland, 1923-1935) - broader,
fuller-sounding, and rhythmically more compelling.

The Vanguard sound as presented on the CD improves on my LP enormously.
In fact, the tinny, puny scratch from my record player led me to seek
out the Copland/Bernstein in the first place.  The CD incarnation is
both rich and clear as a bell.

Steve Schwartz

             ***********************************************
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery.  For more information,
go to:  http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager