WALTER PISTON (1894-1976)
Symphony No. 6 (1955) 25.34
Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1937) 12.34
Concerto for Orchestra (1933) 12.48
Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments and Percussion
Moscow Radio SO/Alexander
Gauk (rec 1962)
Marjorie Mitchell (piano) Göteborg SO/William Strickland (rec 1963)
Polish National Radio Orchestra/William Strickland (rec 1969)
Emerson Quartet/Juilliard Orchestra/Sixten Ehrling (rec May 1978)
all stereo recordings ADD
CITADEL CTD 88134
You never hear that much about Citadel. I am not at all sure why that should
be. Their catalogue is at ease in spanning both classical and film worlds.
Much of their classical side comprises reissues of rare repertoire. The label
hosts a high proportion of 'gold standard' Americana as this and other discs
All but the symphony derive from CRI LPs licensed for the first time onto
CD. The symphony is taken from Melodiya LP 33C0255-56.
The range covered on the CD is wide. It takes in two works from the 1930s,
adds the 1950s symphony (surely the disc's raison d'etre) and concludes with
a work from his very last year. The Symphony is in four movements of which
the second and fourth are very short. In the early 1960s the Soviets seem
to have taken to recording foreign orchestral works. They recorded the Alan
Bush and Rawsthorne Second Symphonies and are also reputed to have done Roy
Harris's Fifth Symphony. The Piston Symphony was written for the
75th anniversary of the Boston SO as also was the Martinu Fifth
Symphony (the two were coupled together on an LP and toured together during
The Sixth does not have the direct access to lyricism which you find in the
Second or Fourth Symphonies. The work dazzles with refinement (harp and strings
in first movement) and with virtuosic scampering figures (I thought of Walton's
Britten Variations). The masterly adagio sereno opens with a prominent
sombre cello lament leading to the searing starlight of the strings and then
rising to a brassy statement of contorted and impassioned grandeur. The
concluding allegro energico is a hailstorm of brightness - recalling
some of the propulsive energy of the second symphony's finale.
The Piano Concertino is neo-classical with the piano constantly in Stravinskian
spate apart from in the middle section where a cello solo looks forward to
the same instrument's work in the adagio of the sixth symphony. The Concerto
for Orchestra sounds very much like a concerto grosso unwittingly summoning
up echoes of the Bach Double Violin Concerto and the De Falla Harpsichord
Concerto. In the central movement the orchestra crows, slides and slews over
the scenery after a commanding Hary Janos type 'sneeze'. The finale
is memorable for a colloquy for the deep resinous brass and a gaunt drizzle
of a fugue. The single movement quartet concerto is clean and clear, busy
and brusque, dissonantly chattering - letting up only for a solo violin serenade
in the central section.
The Symphony has been recorded before: by the dedicatees (Munch and the Boston
Symphony) and in 1989 by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony. There is
also a Slatkin disc on RCA. The Munch was on RCA; the Schwarz on Delos.
The notes are variously by the composer and drawn from CRI originals.
Recording quality is good allowing for the passage of the years. I have not
heard the Slatkin but so far as the others are concerned this interpretation
is thoughtful, enthusiastic and seemingly deeply felt. Strongly recommended.
Citadel and Tom Null have done an invaluable job in collecting together this
If you have any difficulty in obtaining the disc you can order it direct
from Citadel's website:-