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Vincent PERSICHETTI (1915-1987)
Music for Wind Band
Divertimento op. 42 (1950) [11:22]
Psalm op. 53 (1952) [8:48]
O God Unseen - Chorale Prelude op. 160 (1984) [9:04]
Pageant op. 59 (1953) [7:42]
Masquerade op. 102 (1965) [13:14]
O Cool is the Valley op. 118 (1971) [6:08]
Parable - Poem op. 121 (1972) [18:13]
Winds of the London Symphony Orchestra/David Amos
rec. Abbey Road Studio 1, London, 13-14 April 1993

Persichetti was born of German and Italian parents in Philadelphia. He remained very much a Philadelphia figure though for much of his life he taught at the Juilliard.
His catalogue runs to 160 works of which there are nine symphonies and twelve piano sonatas. His language accommodated both the lyrico-Americana strand and atonality. We hear both in this collection.
The present works represent part of his contribution to the vital high school and college wind band movement. For this market his style often had a strong lyrical emphasis. The same lyrical scene was also served by compositions by Giannini, Hanson, Schuman, Harris and Piston. And it is into this broad grouping that Persichetti's music on this disc slides although Parable and Pageant ensure that it is not a perfect fit. 
The Divertimento's six Stravinskian melodic movements are not separately tracked although there are clear pauses between each section. The stunning Psalm has the impulsive Western skies energy and epic bearing of a Roy Harris symphony. O God Unseen, the latest piece here, is more subtle with its hesitant wisps of melody and cortege rather suggestive of Sibelius. These gradually coalesce at one point achieving a craggy grandeur then disintegrate into shards and motes. Pageant - Persichetti seems to have had a fondness for P titles - is dominated in its first part by a Whitmanesque elegy-soliloquy. Then at 4:02 a boisterous element enters with rolling waves of horns recalling both Moeran and Roy Harris. Masquerade embraces atonality for the first time. It is based on a theme from his textbook Twentieth Century Harmony. There are ten little variations. Then back to those Ps. Parable for band is one of his twenty-five parables. Like Pageant this is explosively atonal not that this rules out a certain loose-limbed craggy majesty. Bells and other percussion add further facets. O Cool is the Valley, though later than Pageant, is balmy, peaceful and evocative of country scenes.
A wide-ranging and satisfying conspectus of Persichetti's windband music first issued in 1994 on Harmonia Mundi.
Rob Barnett


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