Bishop studied at Michigan and Wichita
universities. His composition tutors include William Bolcom, Evan
Chambers and Michael Daugherty. He has played as saxophonist with
Ray Charles, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and Manhattan Transfer.
Crooning tumbles with impressions: ziegeunerisch;
hiccupping background music, popular American songs of 1940s and
1950s; the Bartók of the Concerto for Orchestra. When the
French Horns are heard high and wild over the threshing colours
of the orchestra the listener is reminded of the fruitily voluptuous
of carolling of the horns in Nielsen 5. A richly kaleidoscopic
Shawn was bon in New York City and studied with
Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner. He spent two years in Paris with Nadia
Boulanger and at Columbia with Jack Beeson. Much of his music
is for chamber ensemble or solo piano (the latter included on
an Albany CD). There are seven orchesral works and a couple of
operars written with his borther Wallace Shawn.
Shawn's 25 minute Piano Concerto was
largely written at the Yaddo settlement. It owes much to the support
of composer Tobias Picker and to the pianist here, Ursula Opens.
Oppens is the dedicatee. The style is a sort of cross between
Prokofiev and Rawsthorne; often tangily energetic, neo-classically
athletic and rhythmically alive. The tranquillo third movement
is dreamily dissonant. It is a work cut from a very different
cloth than the Bishop.
The Creston Dance Overture was
written in 1954 for the National Federation of Music Clubs and
premiered by John Bitter drecting the Miami Symphony on 24 April
1955. Creston is renowned for the influence of Dance on all his
music. Here the overture gives ideal rein to his tendency and
places it in much the same bracing countryside as Copland's Outdoor
Overture, Moean's Overture to a Masque, Bernstein's
Candide Overture and Mathias's Dance Overture. It
is given a cracking performance by the Albany Symphony.
This mixed recital ends with Lees' Second
Piano Concerto which is played by Wolverhampton-born Ian Hobson
(who has recorded an Albany CD of Lees' music for solo piano).
This is a work not all that far distant from the Allen Shawn concerto.
Ragged and raging tendencies are on display. It is busy but does
not for me plumb any great depths unlike the Lees' Violin Concerto
and Horn Concerto. It was premiered in Boston on 15 March 1968.
Two tangily dynamic piano concertos matched up
with two romantically inclined shorter works. The Bishop and Creston
pieces are instantly attractive pieces and the former will yield
up more with repeated hearings.