Get this for the Perry
Stuart M. Paine | Arlington, VA USA | 05/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason, when I pop this CD into my computer, the disc info appears only in Japanese!
I bought this for the "Jamestown Concerto" of William Perry and on that score it doesn't disappoint. Mr. Perry is a veteran composer of works for the stage, such as LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, and for film. He was musical director for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where on piano he accompanied screenings of silent films. Some of his silent film music was heard on the 1971 and 1975 television series THE SILENT YEARS, hosted by Orson Welles. Perry's music is tuneful, Romantic, folksy and agreeably harmonized, unpretentious and engaging. I have yet to hear a single work of his which I do not find immensely appealing. It is always comfortably tonal and joyous. In this world premiere recording of the concerto, cello soloist Yehuda Hanani, who also gave the premiere performance in 2007, obviously enjoys himself and does a stellar job. The work is in five movements of roughly equal length and clocks in at 24:41. It is not a stretch to compare the piece to Kern or even in spots to Delius.
The Schuman and Thomson works here are substantial and Hanani appears to me to have turned in credible performances. The Schuman Fantasy borrows a melody from the composer's own song set to this verse from Shakespeare's Henry VIII:
Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.
Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart,
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.
I wish I could say this Fantasy moved me as does the Perry. I'm not hearing how it emulates the lyricism or delicate sweetness and charm of the lute. It sounds terribly dour, heavy and humorless to me - maybe another reviewer can offer some advice as to how more advantageously to listen for enjoyment.
The Thomson concerto fares much better. The first movement, "Rider on the Plains", is buoyant and almost Korngoldian - very attractive. The second does less for me, mostly because the soloist's intonation in the topmost register is not always dead on. The finale, "Children's Games", is playful and bouncy with a strenuous and tuneful solo part and an exciting finish.
As for my rating, scoring the individual concerti, it's Perry 5 stars, Thomson 5 and Schuman 2.