This post is by request (for Piston in general) and it's a fantastic, rare disc on Citadel with varying works. I almost forgot how much I like Piston's music! Been a long while since I spent some quality time with him :)
The range covered on the CD is wide. It takes in two works from the 1930s, adds the 1950s symphony (surely the disc's raison d'etre) and concludes with a work from his very last year. The Symphony is in four movements of which the second and fourth are very short. In the early 1960s the Soviets seem to have taken to recording foreign orchestral works. They recorded the Alan Bush and Rawsthorne Second Symphonies and are also reputed to have done Roy Harris's Fifth Symphony. The Piston Symphony was written for the 75th anniversary of the Boston SO as also was the Martinu Fifth Symphony (the two were coupled together on an LP and toured together during the mid-1950s).
The Sixth does not have the direct access to lyricism which you find in the Second or Fourth Symphonies. The work dazzles with refinement (harp and strings in first movement) and with virtuosic scampering figures (I thought of Walton's Britten Variations). The masterly adagio sereno opens with a prominent sombre cello lament leading to the searing starlight of the strings and then rising to a brassy statement of contorted and impassioned grandeur. The concluding allegro energico is a hailstorm of brightness - recalling some of the propulsive energy of the second symphony's finale.
The Piano Concertino is neo-classical with the piano constantly in Stravinskian spate apart from in the middle section where a cello solo looks forward to the same instrument's work in the adagio of the sixth symphony. The Concerto for Orchestra sounds very much like a concerto grosso unwittingly summoning up echoes of the Bach Double Violin Concerto and the De Falla Harpsichord Concerto. In the central movement the orchestra crows, slides and slews over the scenery after a commanding Hary Janos type 'sneeze'. The finale is memorable for a colloquy for the deep resinous brass and a gaunt drizzle of a fugue. The single movement quartet concerto is clean and clear, busy and brusque, dissonantly chattering - letting up only for a solo violin serenade in the central section.
1. Sym No.6: Fluendo Expressivo - Moscow RSO/Alexander Gauk
2. Sym No.6: Scherzo: Leggerissimo Vivace - Moscow RSO/Alexander Gauk
3. Sym No.6: Adagio Sereno - Moscow RSO/Alexander Gauk
4. Sym No.6: Allegro Energico - Moscow RSO/Alexander Gauk
5. Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra: In One Movt - Marjorie Mitchell
6. Concerto Orch: Allegro Moderato Ma Energico - Polish Nat Radio Orch/William Strickland
7. Concerto Orch: Allegro Vivace - Polish Nat Radio Orch/William Strickland
8. Concerto Orch: Adagio-Allegro Moderato - Polish Nat Radio Orch/William Strickland
9. Concerto for String Qt, Winds, and Percussion: In One Movt: Confuoco-Lento-Allegro Energico -Emerston Str Qt