Music and Vision homepage

CD Spotlight

Discussion partners

Contemporary American
piano concertos -
reviewed by RON BIERMAN

'... a masterful performance.'

Allen Shawn Piano Concerto; Benjamin Lees Piano Concerto No 2. © 2001 Albany Records

The programming for this disc was a good idea. Short orchestral pieces are used as preludes to longer piano concertos. The result is odd though because the chosen works for orchestra don't set the stage very well for the serious concertos that follow. That's especially true of Andrew Bishop's Crooning, a saccharine tribute to singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and a strange choice to precede Allen Shawn's brooding piano concerto. Crooning doesn't work as a tribute either. It trivializes the art of famous singers by using overly-simplified melodic fragments and ignoring rhythmic drive altogether. The composer writes that, although he has used the style of older popular standards, the material is original. But the most often heard fragment and harmonic change are more than suggestive of the beginning of Fly Me to the Moon, a tune popularized by Sinatra -- and I don't think he would have liked the arrangement [listen -- track 1, 7:12-8:45].

Continue >>

Copyright © 16 October 2003 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


 << Music & Vision home      Recent CD reviews       Respighi >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.