Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
AMERICAN MUSIC FROM AN ENGLISHMAN
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 06/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first two discs of Peter Lawson's projected three recitals (the third not having so far materialised) of American piano sonatas are now reissued as a single set. However a few copies of the first disc on its own are still available at favourable prices on the US and UK marketplaces. Collectors who wish to acquire only these particular works, or for whom one selection from this particular school is enough of a good thing, are recommended to take the opportunity while it lasts.
Both as performances and as recordings these would be hard to better. One senses all the way through that the player lives with this music from love of it. Technically it is all ultra-perfect - every nuance of touch, tone and tempo has been pondered to the last degree and the execution has the kind of flawlessness that I associate with, say, Pollini. It is an intellectual approach, but one that conveys involvement as well as understanding. To appreciate how much this music means to this interpreter I should listen in particular to the andante of Copland's sonata or the adagio of Barber's. Not many virtuosi, either now or in previous generations, can control a slow tempo with this sort of mastery. I felt as I listened that Peter Lawson was conveying his own understanding to me - there was not the slightest sense that this was any kind of `difficult' music, but intelligible, convincing and even beautiful music. It is not romanticised or sentimentalised in any inappropriate way I need hardly say. The playing is clean, and I can recall hardly any use of the sustaining pedal until near the end of the Barber. My own collection already included a version of the Ives from Cherkassky at his 80th birthday recital, and of the Barber from none other than Horowitz who had premiered it. There is not a world of difference between Lawson and Cherkassky in the Ives. Cherkassky had learned the piece specially for that recital and plays it as if he had known it all his long life, but I still think I sense just a shade more authority in it from the younger player. With Horowitz we are in a different world - nobody but nobody plays like that these days, not because today's formidable battalions of virtuosi can't but because nobody wants to. The tense and neurotic sparkle of Horowitz has been replaced by a cool sense of command. What astounded the bourgeois in Horowitz's time they take for granted nowadays.
The recording is quite exceptionally good, not just technically proficient but intelligent too. Thought has obviously gone into providing the right piano tone for this music and for this player. The lengthy liner-note is intelligent as well, but it's still an absolute orgy of Higher Criticism, written in a pompous and convoluted style that verges on self-parody. It contains a good many thoughts that seem to me interesting and valuable, and a good many others that might be for all I can tell. If you read it before listening, as I did, it will make the music easier for you to understand, not so much because of what it says as simply by comparison.
It is the playing itself that does most to commend the music and remove barriers to its acceptance. This disc would grace any collection on either side of the Atlantic."