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American Classics - Piston: The Incredible Flutist, Etc

Release Date: 04/15/2003 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559160   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Walter Piston
Performer:  Scott GoffTherese Elder WunrowGlen Danielson
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony OrchestraSeattle Symphony Orchestra membersJuilliard String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In case you missed this recording of Walter Piston works when it was first released by Delos in 1993 (under the title "The Incredible Walter Piston"), now's your chance to hear it again in the same sound and at a lower price. As part of its acclaimed "American Classics" series, Naxos has licensed several previously issued recordings by the Seattle Symphony as part of a new collaboration to bring these performances back into circulation. Nothing has changed, except that the source tapes were re-mastered by Albert G. Swanson, the former associate engineer to John Eargle on the original recording made more than 10 years ago. The new sonic treatment offers little other than to preserve the slight predominance in the bass and Read more the dark hues of the winds. The liner notes by Steven Lowe are neatly parsed and edited from Shirley Fleming's first edition text.

Listeners new to Piston's music would do well to audition this disc, as it includes a nice cross-section of the composer's output, from his first published work (Suite for Orchestra) to his last (Concerto for String Quartet). In between and opening this disc is the delightful ballet suite to The Incredible Flutist, a piece that features a slithering tango, a lusty Spanish waltz, and a spirited Circus March that concludes with a barking dog (a real one named Nori!). This quirky work--a sort of cross between Petrushka and Parade--alone belies the academic patina that has plagued Piston's name for decades. The fact that he wrote the leading textbook on orchestration should lead more people to think that maybe he actually knew something about it.

The dynamic Suite will excite anybody who loves Bartók, full as it is with resounding canonic brass fanfares, pounding percussion (watch out for the bass drum in the third movement), and chattering strings. Piston also had a flair for elegiac melodies, as evidenced by his soulful English horn writing (a bit aridly played and closely miked in this performance) in the Fantasy for English horn, harp, & strings, and by the slow, calmer parts for string quartet in the Concerto (especially the quixotic concluding viola solo).

Piston's orchestral expertise finds expression in the superbly crafted choral works that close this disc, works that are as buoyant as they are mysterious--and unforgettable. Of course, there are other superlative performances of these individual works (Bernstein's Incredible Flutist on Sony), but Schwarz's surveys remain essential listening for both lovers and newcomers to this great American composer.
--Michael Liebowitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Incredible Flutist by Walter Piston
Performer:  Scott Goff (Flute)
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Concerto for String Quartet, Winds and Percussion by Walter Piston
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra members,  Juilliard String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Psalm and Prayer of David by Walter Piston
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 
Fantasy for English Horn, Harp and Strings by Walter Piston
Performer:  Therese Elder Wunrow (Harp), Glen Danielson (English Horn)
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; USA 
Suite for Orchestra by Walter Piston
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 

Sound Samples

The Incredible Flutist: Introduction - Siesta in the Market Place
The Incredible Flutist: Entrance of the Vendors
The Incredible Flutist: Entrance of the Customers
The Incredible Flutist: Tango of the Merchant's Daughters
The Incredible Flutist: Arrival of the Circus
The Incredible Flutist: Circus March
The Incredible Flutist: The Flutist
The Incredible Flutist: Minuet
The Incredible Flutist: Spanish Waltz
The Incredible Flutist: Siciliana
The Incredible Flutist: Polka Finale
Fantasy for English Horn, Harp and Strings
Suite for Orchestra: Allegro
Suite for Orchestra: Andante
Suite for Orchestra: Allegro
Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments and Percussion
Psalm and Prayer of David: Psalm: "O sing unto the Lord a new song"
Psalm and Prayer of David: Prayer of David: "Bow down thine ear, O Lord"

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