Time for another unheard/unopened disc from the piles, freshly imported for your delight and mine.
I read a couple of rather positive reviews in Gramophone last year and I decided to buy it, never hearing John Musto's music (or name) prior to the reviews. Below is one of those reviews, so let us go forth and give a listen!
"John Musto’s two piano concertos are works of enormous imagination, freshness and feeling that require a soloist who combines sensitivity with almost ferocious virtuosity. As this new disc reveals, the composer had the ideal pianist in mind when writing the concertos – himself. The two pieces are different in numerous ways, though they share Musto’s acute ear for a range of styles, including ragtime and jazz. The Piano Concerto No 1, whose gestation unfolded from 1998 to 2005, was initially inspired by Musto’s friends who died from HIV/Aids. Its dramatic personality is established in the opening movement, with dark ruminations between orchestra and piano. Hints of ragtime dot the landscape of the second movement, while the finale is a burst of perpetual motion rubbing shoulders with remembrances from the opener.
The Piano Concerto No 2 (2006) finds Musto in upbeat frame of mind, eager to sail across the keyboard in dazzling fashion or tease with bluesy sweetness. It’s an entrancing score, full of vibrant interplay. Musto writes audaciously not only for the piano. He also takes pleasure in exploring orchestral colours and possibilities. The last movement is a tour de force of cheeky and alluring moods, with the piano as the galvanic centre of attention.
As soloist, Musto makes a rich meal of his concertos, collaborating with fine forces in Denmark and the US – the Odense Symphony Orchestra, under Scott Yoo, in the First; the Greeley (Colorado) Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Glen Cortese, in the Second. Between concertos, Musto plays two of his Five Concert Rags to irresistible effect." – Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone, Jan. 2014