Edward Macdowell and Company

Composer(s): John Knowles Paine, Horatio Parker, Adolph Martin Foerster, Henry F. Gilbert, Henry Holden Huss, Edward MacDowell, Ethelbert Nevin
Album Title: Edward Macdowell and Company 
Cat. No.: 80206
Genre: Classical
Description: Works by Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, Horatio Parker, Ethelbert Nevin, Henry Holden Huss, Henry F. Gilbert, Adolph Martin Foerster

Malcolm Frager, piano

Edward MacDowell & Company is an excellent overview of late nineteenth-century American piano works by masters (MacDowell, Paine, and Parker) and lesser-known figures of the period (Foerster, Gilbert, Huss, and Nevin). These works reflect a shift away from dance-inspired and entertainment pieces to more formal compositions. Though the styles are quite different, there are similarities among the composers themselves. All were pianists or organists or both, all went to Europe for musical training, and all were schooled in the classical forms. As this recording testifies, their writing for the piano was fluent, stylistically distinctive from that of their European models, and bathed in the glow of Romanticism's embers.

The compositional flair and technical difficulties of the major work on the program, Edward MacDowell's (1861-1908) Twelve Virtuoso Studies, Op. 46, serve as reminders that the composer was a concert pianist with a considerable technique. The writing is at times passionate and rhapsodic, at times expansive and personal. The smaller pieces-Ethelbert Nevin's (1862-1901) Etude in Form of a Scherzo, Henry Holden Huss's (1862-1953) Prelude II, John Knowles Paine's (1839-1906) Fuga Giocosa and Romance, Henry F. Gilbert's (1868-1928) Mazurka, Adolph Martin Foerster's (1854-1927) On the Sea, and Horatio Parker's (1863-1919) Valse Gracile-ripple with charm and grace, with occasional hints of darker shadows (the Paine Romance and the Foerster). Essential listening for anyone interested in the evolution of American piano music and American music in general. 
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