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The Incredible Flutist

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Audio-CD, 1. April 2003
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Produktinformation

  • Komponist: Walter Piston
  • Audio CD (1. April 2003)
  • Anzahl Disks/Tonträger: 1
  • Label: Naxos (Naxos Deutschland Musik & Video Vertriebs-)
  • ASIN: B00008V5ZY
  • Weitere Ausgaben: Audio CD  |  MP3-Download
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  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 836.220 in Musik-CDs & Vinyl (Siehe Top 100 in Musik-CDs & Vinyl)
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Amazon.com: 5.0 von 5 Sternen 4 Rezensionen
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent buy 4. November 2013
Von DFB Orlando - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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Walter Piston is one of the finest American composers, and The Incredible Flutist is one of his finest pieces. Good buy.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen It's hard to complain about a performance and recording so good at so low a price 9. Oktober 2014
Von John J. Puccio - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Piston wrote the ballet "The Incredible Flutist" in 1938, and while the longer, complete dance work may not have caught on, the orchestral suite Piston arranged from it has been in the basic repertoire ever since. Critics have long considered Piston more of an academician than a full-blooded composer, but "The Incredible Flutist" is good enough not only to stand the test of time but to stand up against the very best American compositions.

It is the composer's only programmatic music, telling the story of a carnival that comes to a small village and the effects of the carnival on the local populace, especially the effect of its star flutist on the love lives of his audience. The work, performed in eleven movements and lasting about eighteen minutes, conveys a rapturous joy as well as an uncommon melancholy as it explores various aspects of a small-town American scene. At one point during the "Circus March" the composer calls upon the actual orchestra performers to shout and laugh and carry on as though they were the villagers. It's a charming and wholly entertaining piece of music, which Schwarz and his ensemble play fetchingly.

I wish I could say the same for the other Piston works represented on the disc, but despite their splendid lines and fine performances, they don't quite measure up to the Flutist; or, at least, they're not quite as accessible. You see, the Fantasy for English Horn, Harp & Strings and the Psalm and Prayer of David are more-staid affairs than the Flutist music, and in a few stretches they may seem deadly dull by comparison. Nevertheless, there are some lovely moments in them, and one should not judge too harshly at first listen. Then, there is the Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments & Percussion, augmented by no less than the Julliard String Quartet, which is quite appealing all the way around and should keep almost anyone's interest throughout.

The sound is pretty good, too, recorded, incidentally, for Delos in 1991-92 and remastered in Naxos's "American Classics" line. You'll hear some realistically strong dynamic thumps, a smooth frequency balance, and a deep bass line. It isn't quite as transparent, however, as the old Hanson recording I mentioned earlier, available on CD in the Mercury Living Presence line; nor is Schwarz's performance of the Flutist music quite as vivid or spicy as Hanson's; but the Naxos disc is still plenty good, and it's remarkably inexpensive.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A perfect introduction to the music of Walter Piston 6. August 2012
Von Terrance Aldon Shaw - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Walter Piston (1894-1976) was undoubtedly one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century, though certainly less well known than Copland or Barber. Piston's unfailing originality, monumental craftsmanship and deep musical erudition set the standard for the "American Athletic" school of the 1930s and `40s, even as works like Roy Harris' 3rd Symphony became much better-known examples of the style. For many years Piston's influence as an educator eclipsed his reputation as a composer; he was a long-time professor of harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and composition at Harvard, where Leonard Bernstein was his most famous pupil. (His influence is clearly audible in much of Bernstein's early "Jeremiah" Symphony.) But, in a 1960 essay entitled "The Symphony in America," the English musicologist Peter Jonah Korn opined that there was "no bad (music by) Piston," and I would wholeheartedly agree!

It is only within the last twenty-five years or so that Piston's music has begun to receive the level of attention it deserves from the "mainstream" recording industry. There are now several very fine performances of his award-winning 2nd Symphony (the young Michael Tilson Thomas with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on a superb DG Originals re-issue, and Gerard Schwarz with the Seattle Symphony on Naxos--originally and still available on the Delos label). Schwarz (on Delos/Naxos) and Leonard Slatkin on RCA have also given us excellent readings of the 6th Symphony, along with admirable renditions of "The Incredible Flutist" ballet, a highly accessible score, which remains among the composer's most popular to this day.

Originally issued on the Delos label, this marvelous album from Gerard Schwarz and his Seattle musicians is by far the best single-disc introduction to the music of Walter Piston presently available, including wonderful examples of early, middle and late compositions in a fascinating variety of forms. In addition to a first-rate performance of "The Incredible Flutist," highlights of this set must surely include the very late "Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments and Percussion," and the rare--but lovely--choral work "Psalm and Prayer of David. (Piston's output was almost entirely instrumental, and, with few exceptions, may be classified as "absolute" or "non-programmatic" music, though he consciously eschewed the acerbic atonality of 50s-era serialists like Sessions--perhaps another reason for his relative lack of broad exposure for much of the later 20th century.)

All the works on this album strike a thoughtful balance between serious "composerly" erudition and a "highest-common-denominator" accessibility. For instance, the aforementioned "Concerto," while functioning as a brilliant set of variations, is perfectly listenable; lively, engaging and wholly delightful. This is a must-have for all fans of 20th-century American symphonic music, and is here recommended without reservation!
14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Schwarz/Seattle Piston Series Reappears on Naxos 13. Juni 2003
Von J Scott Morrison - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A wonderful record label, Delos, seems to be no more. In their heyday they began recording an American classics series that included, among others, the symphonic works of Walter Piston (1894-1976). And here is one of them, now remastered and released on Naxos. This one includes Piston's most popular work, the ballet score 'The Incredible Flutist,' as well as the 'Fantasy for English Horn, Harp and Strings,' 'Suite for Orchestra,' 'Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments and Percussion,' and 'Psalm and Prayer of David.' [I include the CD's contents because Amazon has not done so on this product page, at least as of the date of this review.]
'The Incredible Flutist' was the first music by Piston I ever heard. I was a young boy, taken to a concert by my music-loving aunt, and can still remember the excitement I felt when the Circus Parade Music came by, and my surprise and delight that it ended with the sound of a dog barking. On this recording the dog is a yapper. I think I would have preferred to hear a deep-voiced dog (as it was on Leonard Slatkin's old recording), but there you are. The performance by flutist Scott Goff, and by the Seattle Symphony, is first-rate.
The English Horn Fantasy was written as a display piece and shows off the plaintive voice of the solo cor anglais. Its mood and use of modal harmonies make it sound as if it could have been written by one of the English pastoralists. Glen Danielson is a fine English hornist, and harpist Therese Elder Wunrow makes the most of her important accompanying role.
The 'Suite for Orchestra' (1929) is a three-movement piece, Piston's first published work. His background working in dance bands is in evidence in the energetic jazzy rhythms of the first movement. The English horn figures again in the bluesy middle movement. The finale deserts the American pop world when it develops into a vigorous multi-voiced canon.
'Psalm and Prayer of David' is a two-movement work for chorus and orchestra that sets two biblical texts: 'O sing unto the Lord a new song,' (more recently set in somewhat altered form by Bernstein in his 'Mass') and 'Bow down thine ear, o Lord.' It is in a somewhat astringent, but not notably Jewish, harmonic language that aptly illustrates the texts. It was, I believe, Piston's last published music, premiered in 1976.
For me the most interesting piece on the CD is the ten-minute, 'Concerto for String Quartet, Wind Instruments & Percussion,' played here by the dedicatees, the Juilliard Quartet, and members of the Seattle Symphony. It is a one-movement set of variations which evolve each from the other, beginning with a harsh juxtaposition of winds and percussion against straining string quartet, but then slowing and quietening to a lyrically mournful middle section. There is an extended and virtuosic cadenza for the quartet that leads to a vigorous full wind-and-percussion peroration that eventually culminates in a quiet, pensive ending.
Hats off to all involved in this wonderful series. I understand that Piston's Fourth Symphony and Three New England Sketches have just been released and I expect that issue will be one of my next reviews!
Review by Scott Morrison
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