PANN:  Piano Concerto (1996/7).  Deux sÈjours (1994).  Dance Partita (1995).  Two Portraits of Barcelona (1994).
Barry Snyder, pianist/Czech State Philharmonic, Brno; JosÈ Serebrier, cond.

NAXOS 8.559043 (B) (DDD) TT:  66:31
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Young American composer Carter Pann (b. 1972) is showcased on this fine CD. Pann has a master's degree from the University of Michigan where two of his teachers were William Bolcom and Bright Sheng. He has won many awards including a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the K. Serocki Competition in Poland (for his piano concerto), and four ASCAP composer awards. On commission Pann wrote a clarinet concerto  (Rags to Riches) for Richard Stoltzman and also writes music for TV and radio commercials.

Pann's Piano Concerto is an imaginative five-movement work that opens with Piña Colada, a pop tune with heavy percussion, followed by a Debussyesque Nocturne.  The third movement is for solo piano, described as "a smokey lounge piece," the fourth, Blues, is a "swung intermezzo," followed by The Concert, a rambunctious energy-driven finale that unabashedly quotes the rapid string scales in the final movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.

Deux sÈjours (Fontvielle, Provence and Portofino, Italy), written in 1994 are delectable listening purposely in the style of Satie's GymnopÈdiesDance Partita, dating from 1995, has  four primary movements (Burlesque, Air, Folk Dance, Pas d'electique), separated by "Four Baroque" episodes.  As occurs rather often with Pann, other composer's music is quoted—in this case Beethoven's Emperor concerto.  Antoni Gaudi's Cathedral is the first of the concluding Two Portraits of Barcelona and to me the most appealing music on the CD. It's an effective sound picture with tolling bells and atmospheric effects, suggestive of Hovhaness and Ives.  The second Portrait, The Bullfight, in which music from Barcelona bullfights is quoted, is a hackneyed, repetitive pop piece, a la second-rate Morton Gould.

This is an intriguing disk, nothing of major musical importance but pleasant to listen to and superbly played by the Czech orchestra under Serebrier.  Barry Snyder, who was one of Pann's piano teachers, is the fine pianist in the concerto.  Naxos' sonic quality is state-of-the-art. 

R.E.B. (Jan. 2002)