La Montaine: Piano Concerto/Stevens: Symphonic Dances
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL166     Release Date: 2010-05-01

Karen Keys, piano; Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra; Guy Fraser Harrison, conductor; London Philharmonic Orchestra; George Barati, conductor

John La Montaine (1920-2013), though known among his professional colleagues for a decade as a highly gifted pianist, came into national prominence as a composer only in 1958, when the Piano Concerto recorded here received its world premiere on November 25 of that year.

The reasons for the deep impression made by the Concerto on both lay listeners and on critics and professionals is not hard to discover; for in common with his senior colleague, Samuel Barber, La Montaine has displayed in his music a flair for intensely dramatic lyrical utterance in combination with virtuosic effectiveness in the best sense of the word that makes for surefire listener impact. For a contemporary composer to accomplish such a feat in a large-scale piece, sticking within a relatively traditional framework, and avoiding the slightest taint of the meretricious is a feat of no mean order, and one attainable only by a composer whose stylistic persuasions are backed by a solidity of craftsmanship that has become second nature.

If John La Montaine can be labeled a modern romantic, then Halsey Stevens can be said to fall firmly into the modern classic category. However, Stevens’s classicism, with its emphasis on linearity and closely reasoned structure, is amply tinctured with rhythmic patterns that mark his musical speech as distinctly American, as opposed to a faceless cosmopolitanism. His catalog of works is generous and varied, encompassing virtually all media save opera. Besides the two symphonies and Triskelion, Stevens’s works include a Piano Concerto (1957); Septet (1957/ a Fromm Foundation commission); Viola Sonata (1950); three string quartets, three trios, and a series of choral works ranging from the intimate a cappella work Like as the Culver on the Bared Bough (1954/ CRI 102) to the Magnificat (1962) for chorus, trumpet, and string orchestra.

This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Full liner notes are accessible via the link above.

Karen Keys

La Montaine: Piano Concerto/Stevens: Symphonic Dances

MP3/320 $7.99
FLAC $7.99
WAV $7.99
CD-R $7.99

Track Listing

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op.9: I. Moderately fast - decisive
John La Montaine
Buy
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op.9: II. Elegy; andante
John La Montaine
Buy
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op.9: III. Finale
John La Montaine
Buy
Symphonic Dances: I. Allegro moderato
Halsey Stevens
Buy
Symphonic Dances: II. Adagio
Halsey Stevens
Buy
Symphonic Dances: III. Allegro
Halsey Stevens
Buy