Fine, Menotti, Ruggles & Shapero: Piano Works
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80402     Release Date: 1991-01-01

Michael Boriskin, piano

At the outset of his career, Harold Shapero (b in 1920) was widely recognized as one of his generation's most promising composers. While in his twenties, he undertook to study closely the musical phraseology and rhetoric Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, as a discipline to help him sharpen melodic contours and better manipulate larger musical forms. When the brief piano sonata he set out to compose based on classical principles took only a few days to finish, he decided to write two more. Although their Viennese models hover close to the surface, these three lively, finely wrought works speak with a distinctive voice of their own.

Like Shapero, Irving Fine (1914-1962) began as an adherent of the so-called American Stravinsky school, writing in an unusually buoyant neoclassical idiom. Music for Piano (1947), his only important keyboard work, dates from that period. Conceived as a sixtieth birthday tribute to Nadia Boulanger, the work reflects her concern with meticulous craftsmanship, textural clarity, and precision of thought.

The reputation of Carl Ruggles (1876-1971) rests upon only eight relatively brief compositions. The music of this independent-minded Yankee experimentalist combines grandeur, raw power, mystery, and longing; as Wilfrid Mellers has noted, Ruggles "persistently strove for the ecstatic and the sublime." Evocations underwent a typically long gestation period, and continued to be reworked after publication.

Gian Carlo Menotti (b in 1911) is thoroughly identified with the theater, having composed nearly two dozen operas. It is often forgotten, however, that he has also written a considerable number of chamber and orchestral works. As the Ricercare and Toccata is an attractive and well-proportioned composition, it is curious that the piece remains his only concert work for solo piano. The composition is based on an aria from The Old Maid and the Thief, a comic opera. The Ricercare's Pucciniesque lyricism is a mainstay of Menotti's effective, if sometimes melodramatic, operas. The brilliant keyboard writing in the Toccata, a fleet, perpetual motion, is ingratiating, natural, and thoroughly accomplished.

Michael Boriskin

Fine, Menotti, Ruggles & Shapero: Piano Works

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Track Listing

Sonata No. 1: I. Allegro preciso
Harold Shapero
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Sonata No. 1: II. Poco adagio
Harold Shapero
Buy
Sonata No. 1: III. Minuetto (allegretto)
Harold Shapero
Buy
Sonata No. 1: IV. Presto
Harold Shapero
Buy
Music for Piano: I. Prelude
Irving Fine
Buy
Music for Piano: II. Waltz-Gavotte
Irving Fine
Buy
Music for Piano: III. Variations
Irving Fine
Buy
Music for Piano: IV. Interlude-Finale
Irving Fine
Buy
Sonata No. 2: I. Allegro di molto
Harold Shapero
Buy
Sonata No. 2: II. Adagio
Harold Shapero
Buy
Sonata No. 2: III. Con brio
Harold Shapero
Buy
Evocations - Four Chants for Piano: I. Largo
Carl Ruggles
Buy
Evocations - Four Chants for Piano: II. Andante con fantasia
Carl Ruggles
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Evocations - Four Chants for Piano: III. Moderato appassionato
Carl Ruggles
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Evocations - Four Chants for Piano: IV. Adagio sostenuto
Carl Ruggles
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Sonata No. 3: I. Allegro marcato
Harold Shapero
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Sonata No. 3: II. Presto lirico
Harold Shapero
Buy
Sonata No. 3: III. Andante
Harold Shapero
Buy
Sonata No. 3: IV. Energico
Harold Shapero
Buy
Ricerare & Toccata on a theme from "The Old Maid and the Thief": I. Ricercare
Gian Carlo Menotti
Buy
Ricerare & Toccata on a theme from "The Old Maid and the Thief": II. Toccata
Gian Carlo Menotti
Buy