Piston, Ives & Carpenter: Orchestral Works
Marjorie Mitchell, piano soloist; Göteborg Symphony Orchestra; William Strickland, conductor

The Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra reveals Walter Piston in a stage of transition from a rather taut French-oriented neo-classicism toward the more expansive musical speech represented by the symphonies from No. 2 on, and by the Piano Quintet.

Though cast in a single movement about thirteen-and-a-half minutes in length, this “adventure of a musical idea” as Piston once called his Concertino, falls into five discernible sections. The first finds piano and orchestra (scored with wood winds in twos, a pair of horns, plus strings) presenting the basic thematic material in a lively 3/4 allegro, and out of this is derived most of what follows. Section two is highlighted by a woodwind fugato in 6/8; while the third part (adagio 3/4) serves as slow movement, wherein the solo ’cello plays a leading role. The following section is in the nature of a recapitulation with fresh development; while the final pages offer variants of the section two materials in 2/4 that lead to a brief and spirited coda.

As a listening experience, Charles Ives' The Fourth of July can best be likened to an aural equivalent in New England milieu of one of the livelier scenes in James Joyce’s Ulysses (begun in 1914, by which time Ives had composed all of his most brilliant musical essays evocative of stream-of-consciousness simultaneity of experience). The music is, in short, a startling pre-Joycean montage, (complete with G.A.R. tunes in every conceivable key and metric variant) the first realization of which in performance came about on February 21, 1932 with Nicolas Slonimsky conducting L’Orchestre Symphonique de Paris.

Ives himself supplied a program note as preface to the printed score: “It’s a boy’s ‘4th,’-no historical orations-no patriotic grandiloquence by ‘grown-ups’-no program in his yard) But he knows what he’s celebrating-better than some of the county politicians. And he goes at it in his own way, with a patriotism, nearer kin to nature than jingoism. His festivities start in the quiet of the midnight before and grow raucous with the sun. Eyerybody knows what it’s like. The day ends with the rocket over the Church-steeple, just after the annual explosion sets the Town-Hall on fire.”

Lee Fairley in his notes for a performance of the Concertino for Piano and Orchestra given during the 1946-47 season by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D. C. quotes these remarks by John Alden Carpenter on the subject of the work in question: “Not to impose upon it a definite ‘program,’ but merely to establish the mood of the piece, it may be suggested that the Concertino is, in effect, a lighthearted conversation between piano and orchestra-as between two friends who have travelled different paths and become a little garrulous over their separate experiences. The conversation is mostly of rhythms, American, oriental, and otherwise. The rules of polite talk, as always between friends, are not strictly observed-often, in animated moments, they both talk at once, each hearing only what he says himself. Presently the moment comes, as always between friends, when no conversation is necessary—a relaxed moment, when Friendship itself takes them in hand and they have nothing to say. But the reaction is quick and strong—there is still so much that presses to be said—on a pleasant night with youth in the air—between friends.


This title from the CRI LP back catalog has been carefully transferred from the original master tape, and is now available from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

We have preserved the original CRI LP catalog number for this title, preceded by the prefix NWCRL, to distinguish vinyl-only back catalog titles from those later reissued by CRI on compact disc. Please refer to the liner notes for information about the program.

Please note that the newly-digitized CRI LP titles are priced at $12.99 per disc and may be ineligible for special offer pricing.

Göteborg Symphony Orchestra

Piston, Ives & Carpenter: Orchestral Works

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $12.99

Track Listing

Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
Walter Piston
Buy
The Fourth of July
Charles Ives
Buy
Concertino for Piano and Orchestra: I. Allegro con moto
John Alden Carpenter
Buy
Concertino for Piano and Orchestra: II. Lento grazioso
John Alden Carpenter
Buy
Concertino for Piano and Orchestra: III. Allegro risoluto
John Alden Carpenter
Buy