Thursday, December 11, 2014

Flute Concertos - "Two Pulitzer Prize Winning Composers" - Morton Gould and John La Montaine - Slovak RSO, Bratislava - Zuohuang Chen, Dir. - Keith Bryan, Flute

I was going through a box of cds yesterday and picked out several that I barely recollect. This disc on Premier Recordings is one of them. I am familiar with Morton Gould's music and have several discs of his music. John La Montaine, not so much. I don't remember what either of these Flute Concertos sound like as I haven't played the album since it came out in 1995 I would guess. Thus I will be listening with "fresh ears" like most of you. Let us give it a try, shall we? ;)

As it turns out, yesterday was Morton Gould's birthday, so this is almost a "birthday" post, albeit
an inadvertent one..

Here is what Gould says about his concerto in the booklet notes:

"My Flute Concerto is dedicated to Katherine Lewis who commissioned the work for Donal Peck, Sir George Solti and the Chicago Symphony. When Donal Peck first called and asked whether I were agreeable to such a commission, I recall that before he finished his question I said "yes". Later on, I had the opportunity of meeting Katherine Lewis and we became good friends, keeping in touch during the 'birth pangs' of the concerto. Sadly she died shortly before the premiere and never heard the work she commissioned. Every composer writes differently-some use a piano and some do not. Although I am a pianist, I do not use it to compose. I hear everything in my head and completely orchestrated. I completed the Flute Concerto in May, 1984 and the first performance took place on April 18, 1985 in Chicago's Orchestra Hall. The four movements are meant to display contrasting moods and textures. The first movement might be labeled "Aggressive and Extroverted" as, after a quiet opening, the flute becomes belligerent and brassy for much of the time. The second movement is contemplative and introspective with several gradual climactic buildups. The third movement is a kind of "Schottische" relaxed and classic-like. The fourth movement is buoyant with a classical symmetry, interrupted briefly by a reflective sequence before driving to a bravura finish. It should be noted, however, that whatever I really have to say is only in the music." 

Here is what (a part of, as my fingers are tired somehow) John La Montaine says about his concerto:

"...The Concerto itself, is about the transformation of the extravagant, objective and impersonal music of nature into the ordered, impassioned and personal music of human expression. I think that music which doesn't say something about the human condition isn't very interesting in the long run. In form the entire work is an outgrowth of the quiet flute solo heard at the end of the introduction to the first movement. This phrase functions as a basic motive for the Concerto and best expresses musically my thoughts and ideas"

Here is a bio on Morton Gould (not mine, I don't recall the source):

Composer, conductor, and arts administrator Morton Gould was born in Richmond Hill, New York. When he was eight years old, he won a scholarship to the Institute of Musical Art (since 1923 The Juilliard School), and he published his first piece at age fifteen.
In 1934, Gould, a staff pianist at Radio City Music Hall since its opening in 1932, became music director of a weekly New York radio program, which involved composing, arranging, and conducting. While writing specifically for broadcast—which often included what was then called a “light classical” approach and was governed by timing limitations—he also composed more substantial works that integrated popular American styles, flavors, and idioms.
Gould wrote music for two Broadway shows, Billion Dollar Baby (1945) and Arms and the Girl (1950), a ballet score, Fall River Legend (choreographed by Agnes De Mille), and a number of film scores—appearing himself in the 1945 film Delightfully Dangerous. And he continued creating orchestral works informed by American themes and vernacular styles, such as American Salute (1947), a symphonic treatment of the famous song from the War Between the States, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” His later works include a flute concerto (1985), Notes of Remembrance (1989), and the piece that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995, Stringmusic, written for Mstislav Rostropovich’s final season as conductor of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.

Gould served on the governing board of ASCAP for more than thirty-six years and as president from 1986 until 1994. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and awarded a Kennedy Center Honor. His assimilation of popular American idioms and entertainment forms and styles into concert works ranged from conventional but inventive orchestral versions of existing themes to more flamboyant experiments, such as the 1952 Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra or, forty years later, a work for rapper and orchestra, The Jogger and the Dinosaur, written for the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony.

Track listing:

Morton Gould (December 10, 1913-Febuary 21, 1996)  "Flute Concerto"
1)Rhapsodie (9:45)
2)Elegiac Variations (12:00)
3)Intermezzo (3:26)
4)Rondo (Finale) (7:20)

John La Montaine (March 17, 1920-April 29, 2013) "Flute Concerto"
5)Mysterious. Lively but not fast (12:00)
6)Slowly (6:07)
7)Soliloquy (1:42)
8)Joyous, rhythmic, not fast (8:07)

-I am listening to the disc now and thus far I am enjoying it, up to the last movement of the Gould..




Anonymous said...

Magníficos FluteConcertos,Tzadik,nunca los había oído,gracias,todo un regalo de Noel,ja,ja,ja,ja,ja,bravooooo y viva Englund ´´Freddy´´,ha,ha,ha,ha,un abrazo,you friend argentino,Dr.Tapirman(this music is vere well my spirit,thanks sublimes)

Anonymous said...

I love such shares. I do that too sometimes - find some obscure disk that seems nice, listen to it, like it and share it online right away. A lot of fun all around! LOL

Thanks, I like flute concertos.


Tzadik said...

Hola dr. T, seems I missed your comment this time. Happy you like the Flute concertos! And the Nightmare on Elm street reference ;) Saludos!

Tzadik said...

Piterets happy ya like the disc. Good fun all around doing a spontaeneous share I do agree!