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John Musto: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Two Concert Rags / John Musto, piano

Album Summary

>Musto, John [Piano] : Concerto for Piano no 1
>Musto, John [Piano] : Five Concert Rags
>Musto, John [Piano] : Concerto for Piano no 2
Performer Conductors Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Expedition Audio Recommended
Employing a wide range of percussion instruments in both works, Musto keeps his music fresh, colorful and engaging. Harmonically, it is tonal, although it will often run pretty far afield of its center, move in unpredictable directions and use tonal combinations that produce sharply vivid colorations. Still, there is nothing here that is remotely atonal.... read more ...

In recent years, John Musto has been praised as one of America's great musical talents. Fanfare magazine called him "not just the leading vocal composer of his generation, but perhaps also the leading one of opera." Musto's operas, his chamber music, and his prolific catalog of songs and song cycles have been performed and recorded by a plethora of leading artists, giving us a very clear picture of his range and accomplishment. Missing until now, however, has been a recording of two of his major works - the two concertos for piano and orchestra. This recording presents Musto's own superb interpretations of his two concertos - No. 1, a thirty-minute dark, brooding score; and No. 2 a joyous and extroverted celebration. As encores, Musto performs two of his delicious Concert Rags. These other John Musto recordings are available on Bridge: Songs of John Musto (BRIDGE 9286); Bastianello (BRIDGE 9299A/B).

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark (03/10/2010-03/13/2010); Monfort Concert Hall, Union Colony Civic Center, Greele (03/10/2010-03/13/2010); Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark (05/01/2012-05/02/2012); Monfort Concert Hall, Union Colony Civic Center, Greele (05/01/2012-05/02/2012).



Reviews

These concertos benefit from the composer's touch
John Musto performs his piano concertos with telling effect. While these works are technically challenging, I don't hear keyboard prowess being the purpose of these works. Rather, the focus seems to be on the beauty and integrity of the musical expression. Which is what makes this recording work so well. Musto has the ability to play with precision and authority -- which he does -- but it's his phrasing and articulation that gets to the heart of these works.

Musto's first piano concerto (composed in 1988) opens with a solo clarinet that sets the tone for the work. It begins with a lyrical atonality that gradually builds in intensity. While this is a big composition, there are places that are surprisingly intimate. As the work progresses, the aggressive dissonances begin to soften. The second movement introduces a touch of ragtime, leading into a bustling and satisfying final movement.

The Piano Concerto No. 2, written 18 years after the first, shows how much the composer's skill has developed. The orchestration is more varied, and more adventurous. While the first concerto flirted the vocabulary of popular music, this one fully incorporated it, in the way that Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" encapsulated jazz. Unlike Gershwin's Rhapsody, Musto's concerto is more fully realized, and highly structured.

That's not to say the second concerto's a stuffy academic exercise. The music flows seamlessly from start to finish in an inviting fashion. It's only later that you realize that the engaging first movement cadenza involved some deftly written counterpoint.

Separating the two concertos in the program are two of Musto's concert rags. They're appealing light classical compositions, perfect encore material.
Submitted on 09/27/13 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Musto, John [Piano] : Concerto for Piano no 1
  • Performer: John Musto (Piano)
  • Conductor: Scott Yoo
  • Ensemble: Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark (05/01/2012-05/02/2012)
  • Running Time: 30 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1988

>Musto, John [Piano] : Five Concert Rags :: Regrets
  • Performer: John Musto (Piano)
  • Notes: Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark (05/01/2012-05/02/2012)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Musto, John [Piano] : Five Concert Rags :: In Stride
  • Performer: John Musto (Piano)
  • Notes: Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark (05/01/2012-05/02/2012)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Musto, John [Piano] : Concerto for Piano no 2
  • Performer: John Musto (Piano)
  • Conductor: Glen Cortese
  • Notes: Monfort Concert Hall, Union Colony Civic Center, Greeley, Colorado (03/10/2010-03/13/2010)
  • Running Time: 25 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 2006