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Concertos for Two Pianos

Album Summary

>Suesse, Dana Nadine : Concerto, for 2 pianos & orchestra in E minor
>McDonald, Harl : Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra
>Vaughan Williams, Ralph : Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra in C major (revised version of Piano Concerto)
Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Sono Luminus is proud to present this program of three rarely heard concertos for two pianos and orchestra. These three works were composed during a twenty-year period between 1926 and 1946 and display virtuosity and lyricism that is highlighted so beautifully by the powerhouse Long Duo on piano.

Fanfare
For the Suesse and McDonald works, together with a knowledgeable annotation by the unique cabaret pianist and singer Peter Mintun (who back in the 1970s brought Dana Suesse out of retirement to attend a Carnegie Hall concert of her music featuring conductor Frederick Fennell and pianist Cy Coleman!), this is an essential release not likely to be duplicated in the near or far future. Grab it!

American Record Guide
But I jumped at the chance to review this for the concerto by Harl McDonald. A forgotten man today, McDonald was championed both by Eugene Ormandy and Serge Koussevitzky, and this concerto was fortunate enough to win the approval of Leopold Stokowski, whose 1937 recording with Jeanne Behrend and Alexander Kelberine has been reissued on Cala. He wrote it while serving as Director of Music at the University of Pennsylvania and shortly before becoming General Manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the palpable bond between composer and conductor that began with Stokowski was later reinforced by Ormandy's recording (for 78s) of his First Symphony, The Santa Fe Trail.

Although born near Boulder, Colorado, McDonald grew up in Southern California, primarily San Jacinto, where he recalled "I got an ear-full of Mexican music"; and you may hear that in his concerto. He described it not as a typical back-and-forth of soloist and orchestra, but rather "a work for orchestra with decoration in the solo instruments"; even so it proceeds in broadly romantic fashion much as you might expect - that is, until the finale, a Mexican juarezca launched by 12 measures of the most glorious racket you ever heard by all manner of drums that also break out in force whenever the soloists aren't looking. Filled out with wonderful jazzy slides by the trumpets, what we have here might be the love child of the Gershwin concerto and Morton Gould's Latin-American Symphonette - why have we had to wait so long for a new recording? The Long sisters take care to get the tricky rhythms just right, and they do a fantastic job; but oh, how I wish they had simply thrown caution to the winds and let it rip like Stoky's team! Even the drums - as good as they are - don't thunder like the Philadelphia if you play the Cala loud enough to wake the dead - as you should. But this is a really good modern recording, and I only hope it will give concert planners out there some ideas.

Audiophile Audition
Dana Suesse was well-known in the 1930s - primarily due to her association with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. In fact there is a photo of her with Whiteman and George Gershwin which lends credence to some critics referring to her as the female Gershwin. She had studied composition with Rubin Goldmark, who also taught Gershwin. She was interested in popular music and jazz and the public loved the full rich chords and syncopation in her works. Her two-piano concerto is in four movements, with a striking Scherzo third movement. It has some fine melodies and occasionally sounds like film score music.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Greater Municipality Art and Culture Center in Eskisehi (06/12/2010-06/16/2010).



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Works Details

>Suesse, Dana Nadine : Concerto, for 2 pianos & orchestra in E minor
  • Conductor: Patrick Souillot
  • Ensemble: Long Duo
  • Notes: Greater Municipality Art and Culture Center in Eskisehir, Turkey (06/12/2010-06/16/2010)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1943

>McDonald, Harl : Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra
  • Conductor: Patrick Souillot
  • Ensemble: Long Duo
  • Notes: Greater Municipality Art and Culture Center in Eskisehir, Turkey (06/12/2010-06/16/2010)
  • Running Time: 20 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1937

>Vaughan Williams, Ralph : Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra in C major (revised version of Piano Concerto)
  • Conductor: Patrick Souillot
  • Ensemble: Long Duo
  • Notes: Greater Municipality Art and Culture Center in Eskisehir, Turkey (06/12/2010-06/16/2010)
  • Running Time: 27 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1946