Beach:

Beach: "Gaelic" Symphony, Piano Concerto

by Kenneth Schermerhorn
     
 

It's difficult to say what place Amy Beach would have had in American music had she been a man. Her educational opportunities were limited (first by her parents and later by her husband), and she ended up being largely self-taught. How would she have developed her exceptional talent with a proper education and more performance experience? We'll never know, yet these… See more details below

Overview

It's difficult to say what place Amy Beach would have had in American music had she been a man. Her educational opportunities were limited (first by her parents and later by her husband), and she ended up being largely self-taught. How would she have developed her exceptional talent with a proper education and more performance experience? We'll never know, yet these two large-scale orchestral works certainly demonstrate how much progress she made on her own. The Piano Concerto is intensely lyrical, and beneath its virtuoso glitter lies a meditative core; its melodies have a cool freshness that reminds one of Grieg at times, though there is also a dramatic edge that seems almost Russian (echoes of Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein). There are some original touches, too, like the playful moto perpetuo second movement, in which the piano is virtually in constant motion. The "Gaelic" Symphony, based on a series of Irish folk tunes, is more atmospheric; less flashy and more "serious" than the concerto, it's painted with a rich palette of Brahmsian colors. The Nashville Symphony gives brilliant and affectionate performances of both works, and pianist Alan Feinberg plays the solo part of the concerto with easy, charming virtuosity. There's no better (or more affordable) introduction to Beach's music.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Amy Beach's "Piano Concerto in C sharp minor" and her "Symphony in E minor Gaelic" are markedly different in purpose and character, but they complement each other rather well on this disc. Dark chromaticism and restless modulations mark the "Piano Concerto" as a work of late-Romantic turbulence and angst, yet Beach's rigorous control of her themes and sharp-edged pianistic writing -- tailored to her own prodigious skills -- keep the concerto at a high level of sophistication and coherence. Pianist Alan Feinberg and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, directed by Kenneth Schermerhorn, present the concerto with urgency and incisive articulation, emphasizing the work's brilliance over its unsettled emotional content. In contrast to the concerto, Beach's "Gaelic Symphony" is a much brighter work, and the overall mood is warm and genial. Often compared to Dvorák's "New World Symphony" because of the use of folk-styled melodies as thematic material, Beach's symphony is more modest and never aspires to that work's epic scale and force. Even though a certain ingenuousness is evident in Beach's handling of symphonic form, this sturdy piece is as accomplished as any American effort of the time. Schermerhorn and the N.S.O. produce a marvelous sound throughout, and the fidelity of the recording makes this CD thoroughly enjoyable.
Gramophone - Andrew Achenbach
Alan Feinberg brings extra charisma to bear [in the Piano Concerto] without any loss of delicacy or poetry.... Schermerhorn and his eager Nashville band [give the Symphony] a convincingly paced, tidy performance with real fire in its belly and plenty of character.... A thoroughly enjoyable issue.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/17/2003
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943913925
catalogNumber:
8559139
Rank:
14827

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 45  - Amy Beach  - Alan Feinberg  - Kenneth Schermerhorn  -  Nashville Symphony  - Francis Coates Jones
  2. Symphony in E minor ("Gaelic"), Op. 32  - Amy Beach  - Kenneth Schermerhorn  -  Nashville Symphony  - Francis Coates Jones

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Album Credits

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