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American Romantics - The Boston Scene
Arthur FOOTE (1853-1937)
Suite No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 [13:48]
Arthur WHITING (1861-1936)
Bagatelles [9:35]
John Knowles PAINE (1839-1906)
Three Piano Pieces, Op. 41 - III. Fuga giocosa [1:51]
In the Country, Op. 26 [10:27]
George Whitefield CHADWICK (1854-1931)
Five Pieces, F. 43 - II. Dans le canot; V. Les grenouilles [10:13]
Ethelbert NEVIN (1862-1901)
Water Scenes, Op. 13 [14:48]
Margaret RUTHVEN LANG (1867-1972)
Rhapsody in E Minor, Op. 21 [8:44]
Artem Belogurov (piano)
rec. 2013, St Johns Episcopal Church, Charlestown, USA

Artem Belogurov presents a bouquet of American romantic piano music from the late nineteenth century. He plays this programme on a natural sounding and by no means effete Chickering piano of 1873. This is salon material par excellence performed with self-effacing integrity. The music is amicably flattered by a warm recording.

The Foote Suite is all tricked out in Brahmsian warmth. This is the essence of reassuring home and hearth. Even the Fugue wears a cheery smile. Whiting's name was unfamiliar but his four Bagatelles are affable effusions. The mercurial quickening of the third piece (Bagatelle)
babbles in Schubertian innocence. Paine's Fuga giocosa from his Three Pieces continues the simple Dickensian fireside pleasures. Belogurov then continues the Paine selection with six pieces from In the Country. The homely inoffensive mood is reflected in the titles: Wayside Flowers, The Shepherd's Lament and Welcome Home. The Shepherd's Lament makes halting progress - here is a heartbroken swain indeed.

Chadwick's Barcarolle, after sleepy pages, develops more passion but everything is comparative. His Humoresque - Les Grenouilles is pretty imaginative but these frogs must have been slowed by the heat. Nevin's Water Scenes return us to pressed flowers and precious picture-painting. His Dragon Fly and Water Nymph never stray far from the ballroom. The gentle Ophelia moves out of the accustomed pathways with a slight Hispanic lisp. Narcissus is a Nevin hit and it will be instantly familiar to many listeners as an international classic of the Edwardian era. Margaret Lang's Rhapsody in F minor provides the only instance of imperious contrast. A Brahmsian confection in which torment and tragedy contend, this makes a break from the homespun piano-stool joys of the rest of the programme.

The liner essay, in English only, is by Steven Ledbetter who provides a sympathetic frame for this gentle listening experience.
Rob Barnett

Previous review: Philip Buttall



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