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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Jeffrey James Arts Consulting

Walter PISTON (1894 - 1976)
Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1959)
Quincy PORTER (1897 - 1966)

Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1954)
Morton GOULD (1913 - 1997)

Dance Variations for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1952)
Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas (pianos)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/David Amos (Piston and Gould)
Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Moravia/David Amos
recorded at the Soundstage, CBS Studios, London, on July 24 and 25, 1969. (No details about the Porter).
HELICON HE 1044 [57’55]

Part of this disc has been available in the U.K. before on a Koch release, 3-7002-2. The conductor, David Amos has been relatively busy over the years recording out of the way American orchestral music. He has done sterling service in bringing these to our attention. Are there any masterpieces here? I don’t think so, but what we have is a trio of reasonably tuneful concerti for two pianos by three contemporary American composers who have been prominent over the years.

All three works on this disc are played by the piano duo of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas. They are a duo which has been active on the American circuit for a number of years. Both soloists are ex-students of the Juilliard School of Music. Both have independent concert soloist careers but have appeared as a duo in many American venues to great acclaim. There is certainly no problem whatsoever with their performances of all three works on this disc.

Walter Piston is probably the most famous of this trio and his Concerto for Two Pianos was commissioned by and dedicated to Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz. It is an example of his well written and orchestrated works, without perhaps the impact of some of his more famous compositions e.g. the 2nd and 6th Symphonies. The catalogue could do with much more Piston, and although not out of his top drawer this is a welcome addition to the current lists. It is in three movements and was inspired by the sound and drive of the Concerto Grosso. It is both tuneful and easy to listen to.

Morton Gould, on the other hand is probably the most generally well known of this trio of composers as much of his output is in the semi-popular field. His Dance Variations is an example of his populist writing combining as it does, the sounds of classical, jazz and popular music. These Variations exhibit a number of styles, e.g. Gavotte, Pavane, Polka, Quadrille, Minuet, Waltz and Can-can, Pas de Deux, Tango and Tarantella. Bringing all of these into a work lasting only 24 minutes is some feat. However, if you know Gould’s style of writing, I think you will know what to expect. The two soloists enjoy themselves hugely.

Quincy Porter’s Concerto for Two Pianos is in a somewhat less boisterous style than the Gould, or even indeed, the Piston. Commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra, the concerto was written whilst the composer was on sabbatical leave from Yale, and living in Florence. When it received its first performance in Louisville in 1954, it was nominated for, and subsequently won, the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in music. It is in one movement, with the allegro middle section occupying almost half the concerto’s length. This concerto is generally considered to be Porter’s finest work, and it is good to have it in the catalogue in such a very good performance. The Moravian orchestra certainly does not sound out of character in this very American flavoured work, leaving me to wonder whether this Moravia is in the U.S.A. Highly recommended.

John Phillips



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