Author Topic: The Incredible Walter Piston (1894-1976)  (Read 29980 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline kyjo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2292
  • Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
  • Location: United States
Re: The Incredible Walter Piston (1894-1976)
« Reply #140 on: May 30, 2018, 06:18:32 PM »
I echo the opinion of many that Piston's Second Symphony is probably his finest achievement. I think the second movement is one of the most moving slow movements ever penned - beginning with a elegiac clarinet solo and working its way to a heart-wrenching climax. It's just about the farthest thing from "academic" in 20th century music I can think of. I also love the flowing, rather Sibelian quality of the first movement. The "populist"-inflected finale is great fun, but it is a bit too short on material to be ideally congruous to the first two movements. The MTT/Boston recording is indeed great and makes me wish he would record more Piston, or indeed, more lesser-known American music. Also great is his Violin Concerto no. 1, which has a life-affirming energy and lyricism, as well as his Divertimento for nine instruments, which has bouncily rhythmic outer movements and a deeply felt slow movement. The only other symphony of his I've heard is no. 5, which did not leave much of an impression and struck me as rather dry.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Online vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 17546
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: The Incredible Walter Piston (1894-1976)
« Reply #141 on: May 30, 2018, 09:31:42 PM »
I echo the opinion of many that Piston's Second Symphony is probably his finest achievement. I think the second movement is one of the most moving slow movements ever penned - beginning with a elegiac clarinet solo and working its way to a heart-wrenching climax. It's just about the farthest thing from "academic" in 20th century music I can think of. I also love the flowing, rather Sibelian quality of the first movement. The "populist"-inflected finale is great fun, but it is a bit too short on material to be ideally congruous to the first two movements. The MTT/Boston recording is indeed great and makes me wish he would record more Piston, or indeed, more lesser-known American music. Also great is his Violin Concerto no. 1, which has a life-affirming energy and lyricism, as well as his Divertimento for nine instruments, which has bouncily rhythmic outer movements and a deeply felt slow movement. The only other symphony of his I've heard is no. 5, which did not leave much of an impression and struck me as rather dry.

Very much agree with this Kyle. The DGG CD with Piston's Second Symphony, Ives's 'Three Places in New England' and Ruggles' 'Sun Treader' is quite a sensational disc on all fronts as was the earlier release with the work coupled together with William Schuman's Violin Concerto. I like Piston's 'Three New England Pictures' with the opening of one of them ('Mountains' I think) sounding just like the opening of the contemporaneous Ninth Symphony by Vaughan Williams.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).