GOULD: Show Piece for Orchestra. Piano
This new Albany CD offers three recording premieres. Showpiece for Orchestra was composed in 1954 on a commission from Columbia Records to be included on an LP that would show the company's ability to reproduce orchestral sounds on the then-new long-playing record. Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded it, but it never was issued as the conductor was not satisfied with the performance. The 20-minute work is a theme and variations with different titles, including March, Serenade, Ballad and Toccata. Indeed, it does display the instruments of the orchestra in virtuoso fashion.
The Piano Concerto has had only two performances since its premiere
the year it was written, 1938, at which time the composer was soloist,
and had to wait until a concert to celebrate Gould's 80th birthday, in
1993 at Queens College, for its next appearance. The soloist was Randall
Hodgkinson, who is soloist on this new recording, and the conductor was
Maurice Peress. Gould was present at the rehearsal and commented to the
pianist after the first movement, "That guy Stravinsky's been stealing
from me ever since I was a kid," and, after the second movement, "That
shows I was just as miserable in 1938 as I am today." There are three
movements to the concerto: Fast - Vigorous; Chant, and Fast - With Gusto.
One can easily understand why it is seldom performed. Craftily written, it
has little to say, nor is it a virtuoso display piece for the soloist.
Randall Hodgkinson is to be commended for doing what can be done for the
David Alan Miller leads his Albany Symphony in splendid performances of all three works. How fortunate they are to have available to them the acoustically-acclaimed Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Engineering could not be bettered, with particularly outstanding bass.
R.E.B. (Oct. 2000)