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American Piano Classics
Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)

Piano Concerto in C† (1953)
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra† (original version, 1931)
Louis Moreau GOTTSCHALK (1829-1869)

Grand Tarantelle* - Arr. Hershey Kay
Euday BOWMAN (1887-1949)

12th Street Rag* (1914)
Scott JOPLIN (1868-1917)

The Entertainer* (1902); Solace§ (1909); Maple Leaf Rag* (1899) (all arr. Erich Kunzel)
Morton GOULD (1913-1996)

Interplay (American Concertette for Piano and Orchestra)* (1943)
Stewart Goodyear† (piano)
William Tritt *(piano)
Keith Lockhart§ (piano)
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel
Rec. Music Hall, Cincinnati, 1985-1992. DDD
TELARC CD-80112 [68:13]

 

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. Gottschalk’s Grand Tarantelle exists in various arrangements and was originally for violin and piano. Here it arranged by Hershey Kay and played with tremendous élan. Bowman’s 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 Gould’s Interplay, a wartime concertette (presumably this means a miniature concerto) in four brief movements.

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

 



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