This disc of "American
Piano Classics" is a mid-price
reissue of a record made over a seven
year period and first released in 1993.
The title of the disc misses two points.
First, all the music is played by piano
and orchestra, in some cases in arrangements,
and secondly, the underlying inspiration
of jazz. However these trivial points
and the implication of the liner that
Morton Gould might still be alive when
in fact he died in 1996 (presumably
it hasn’t been updated) are all that
I could possibly complain about. Apart
from the Scott Joplin pieces, the music
is hardly familiar but well worth getting
to know. The performances are idiomatic
and the sound quality is simply stunning.
The disc opens with
Anderson’s piano concerto of 1953 –
a three movement work which was clearly
influenced by Gershwin’s concerto. The
first and last movements are both jolly
allegros. In between, the slow movement
opens by recalling Rachmaninov but soon
reverts to type. That this is billed
as the work’s first recording is surprising
but presumably related to the composer
withdrawing the work with the intention
of revising it and never doing so. In
1989 William Tritt gave its first performance
for around 35 years. The soloist in
this recording is Stewart Goodyear,
who was aged 14 at the time and presumably
a substitute for William Tritt, who
died in 1992 (the year this recording
was made). The Concerto is followed
by Gershwin’s 2nd Rhapsody
for Piano and Orchestra, also with Stewart
Goodyear as an able soloist. This work
is similar in character to Rhapsody
in Blue and rather analogous to
Bruch’s 2nd Violin Concerto,
i.e. almost as good as its predecessor
but not so immediately memorable, and
several thousand times less famous.
Almost all of the rest
of the disc was recorded earlier and
features William Tritt as the soloist.
Gottschalks Grand Tarantelle
exists in various arrangements and
was originally for violin and piano.
Here it arranged by Hershey Kay and
played with tremendous élan.
Bowmans 12th Street Rag
and three well known miniatures by Joplin
are all presented in charming arrangements
by the conductor, Erich Kunzel. Keith
Lockhart, a graduate student from the
University of Cincinnati Conservatory
of Music and assistant to Erich Kunzel
(thanks to Curt Timmons for this information),
takes the piano stool for Solace.
The disc concludes with a rousing performance
of Morton Goulds Interplay,
a wartime concertette (presumably this
means a miniature concerto) in four
If, like me, you don’t
seem to have enough music at the classical/jazz
interface, then this disc should be
high on your wish list. Even if you
do, it is still highly recommendable.
Patrick C Waller