Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Piano Concerto (1926)
Gian Carlo
Piano Concerto (1945)
Earl Wild (piano)
The Symphony of the Air/composer (Copland), Jorge Mester (Menotti)
rec 1961

The Copland's quarter hour concerto opens with all cylinders blasting along at full throttle but moves promptly into a jazzy wrong note dream - half Gershwin's Summertime; half Ravelian fantasy. The second of the two movements is a 'wrong note' jazz strut with stony ragtime overtones. This again links with Gershwin but is harmonically much tougher. It comes full circle to recap the romance of the opening of the work before hammering its way to a raucous close. Wild does not hold back.

After the 'pocket concerto' by Copland we come to a full-length piece. The Menotti was first performed by Rudolf Firkusny. Arthur Cohn's note make much of the Scarlatti connection although I thought more often of Shostakovich when in his most nonchalantly 'flip' vein. The Lento is contemplative and romantically dripping water. There are hints of disquiet captured in ppp shudders and shimmers (bell tolling from Peter Grimes) by the very fine recording. The carnival bright Allegro does not show much heart and the work overall is not in the elect company of Menotti's Violin Concerto (swooningly done by Ricci on Reference Recordings).

Likely to be 'up your street' if you enjoy the Malcolm Arnold Concerto for Phyllis and Cyril or the Britten Piano Concerto.

Rather short measure but this will be available at bargain or lower midprice.

Rob Barnett

Omega/Vanguard Classics
27 W 72nd Street, NYC 10023-3401
Tel (212) 769 3060
Fax (212) 769 3195

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