works by James Yannatos frame this recording of Piston's Third
Symphony. Yannatos is a resident of NYC who studied at the High
School of Music and Art and Manhattan School of Music. His more
advanced studies were with Hindemith, Milhaud and Boulanger. He
studied conducting with Bernstein and Steinberg. He has been director
of this orchestra since 1964. His Concerto for String Quartet
is in three movements played without break. He is another
modern apostle of the lyrical in music with the language broadly
taking in a decidedly Tippett-like ecstasy (Triple Concerto and
Corelli Fantasia), Schnittke's complexity, Bachian fantasy
and the sort of poetry at the heart of the less athletic moments
in Elgar's Introduction and Allegro. Much to enjoy here
- a lovely touch as the chaffing violin solo is picked up by the
tinking bell in the work's farewell. Yannatos's Third Symphony
is in four movements, again played without pause, but
here tracked individually as with the Quartet Concerto. Once again
the work seethes with that piercing and swooning nostalgia we
know from Tippett but with the brakes off as it were. The echoes
are quite striking without being at all plagiaristic or off-putting.
There is a real sincerity radiating from this very fine music.
On the evidence of these two works Yannatos's first love is for
the strings of the orchestra for which he writes with a poignant
Piston Symphony followed the incomparable Second after
a pause of eight years. During that time the composer had found
a more severe persona although the tendrils of his singing voice
are still partially evident. There are four movements (slow -
fast - slow - fast) and the slow movemetns are about twice as
long as the fast ones: roughly 10 mins-5-10-5. The opening andantino
and the third movement adagio do not relax much at all.
They are rather grey and unrelieved ... perhaps a little like
a rather stolid Rubbra adagio. The first allegro
is jerky as is the second one which remains academically patterned
and earth-bound despite some humour. They lack the jazzy delight
of the finale of the Second Symphony. The symphony was written
in memory of Natalie Koussevitsky. It represents a dip in the
Piston symphonic outline.
are very fine recordings taken from live concert performances
without any obvious fluffs or intrusive audience participation.