From the neglected to the well-known - American piano music
Thirteen composers represented in this superb and accessible cross-section
FLAC Downloads includes PDF score of the Marionette Suite and original sleevenotes to Behrend release
THE necessity for a recorded volume of American piano music has long been recognized, and we are singularly fortunate in having so sensitive a performer as Jeanne Behrend to select and present to us a portion of this neglected repertoire. "My interest in American music," writes Miss Behrend, "dates some ten years back when I watched the struggles and disappointments of a young composer who, together with his colleagues, was finding it very difficult to combat the curious and widespread distrust of native-born composers. Later, I reviewed critically my own piano compositions and found them not wanting in merit, but realized that they were doomed to lie on the shelf because of a general lack of interest in American music, as evidenced by the general run of recital programs. I multiplied my case by several others and decided that there must be plenty of good piano music written here; it had only to be found. So I wrote to over sixty composers and ten publishers, asking them to send me their music in order to facilitate a survey of American piano music. They complied very kindly, and after the severe task of selection and preparation, I found that I had enough material for three recitals of American piano music, old and new. The recitals were given in Philadelphia and in New York in the early Spring of 1939.
"This record album is, for the most part, chosen from the three programs, and is admittedly on the conservative side. In compiling it, many problems of program-making and grouping had to be met. This, plus the fact that certain works had already been recorded and that certain composers have not written for the piano, accounts for the omission of several well-known names in American music.
"The album is obviously not meant to represent a complete survey of American piano music, but if it speaks understandably to the sincere lover of music, and if it arouses an interest in more research along these lines, it shall have achieved its purpose."
Excerpt from sleevenotes to "Piano Music by American Composers", - download full notes
Notes on the recordings:
The Decca album Marionettes Suite consisted of two near mint but somewhat crackly 10-inch 78s. These showed considerable variation in top end hiss across the discs, to the extent that attempting smooth side joins risked damaging the music, hence the fades between movements. The RCA Victor album of Jeanne Behrend's performances, across four 12-inch discs, was similarly in excellent condition. Whilst less crackly some sides did suffer swish, most of which has now been tamed or removed. They also benefit from a better recording of the piano, though peak distortion was occasionally an issue. Overall, and together, a delightful collection.
Extensive notes on the transfer and remastering of this release appear in a column by Andrew Rose in the Pristine Newsletter of 23rd September 2011 - newsletters can be viewed online here.
CD covers to print:
CD-writing cuesheet (save as .cue):
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