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No one would mistake Lees' concerto for film music, but the middle movement includes a main theme even more appealing than the one applauded by Gold's audience [listen -- track 2, 7:02-8:07]. The rediscovery of tonality hasn't prevented the academic community from continuing to treat such themes with condescension, but concert halls would be fuller if composers again felt free to create them.

In the final movement, after a brief and quiet introduction, the piano enters aggressively with a short phrase. While greatly accelerated in tempo, it is related to the slow movement's main theme. The work concludes with exciting, whirlwind restatements of the phrase [listen -- track 3, 7:03-8:07].

I hate to think how many worthwhile American concertos have been performed in concert only once or a few times without making it to a commercial recording. I'm glad to see Pierian filling some of the gaps, but envy the first class, contemporary performances in the wonderful Hyperion series of infrequently played European concertos. If they decide to cross the ocean, or the nearly ubiquitous Naxos begins a rival series, perhaps the Gold, and certainly the two Lees concertos deserve an early place in queue.

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Copyright © 19 November 2003 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


Benjamin Lees and Ernest Gold Piano Concertos

Pierian 0010 Mono REISSUE 53'11" 2003 Pierian Recording Society

Lees: Joseph Bloch, piano; National Orchestral Association; John Barnett, conductor; Gold: Marisa Regules, piano; National Orchestral Association; Leon Barzin, conductor

Benjamin Lees (born 1924): Piano Concerto No 1; Ernest Gold (1921-1999): Piano Concerto


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