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Amy Beach, Vol. 1: By the Still Waters (Solo Piano Music)
Joanne Polk
Amy Beach, Vol. 1: By the Still Waters (Solo Piano Music)
Genres: Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #1

Amy Beach is historically important as the first prominent American woman composer. She also wrote music of some substance and charm. But like most of her contemporaries, she wrote mostly rather lightweight salon music f...  more »

     
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CD Details

All Artists: Joanne Polk
Title: Amy Beach, Vol. 1: By the Still Waters (Solo Piano Music)
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Arabesque Recordings
Release Date: 7/29/1997
Album Type: Import
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Short Forms, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 026724669323

Synopsis

Amazon.com
Amy Beach is historically important as the first prominent American woman composer. She also wrote music of some substance and charm. But like most of her contemporaries, she wrote mostly rather lightweight salon music for solo piano, and its interest has faded considerably. Of pianist Joanne Polk's two Beach CDs, this one is the more recommendable because it includes a substantial piece, the Variations on Balkan Themes, which shows what Beach could do when she set her mind to it. Some of the little pieces here are unbearably trivial. Polk plays very well, and benefits from excellent recorded sound. -- Leslie Gerber
 

CD Reviews

BEACH AT HER BEST (REDUX)
Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 02/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can scarcely believe it's been nearly two and a half years since I wrote my first review [October 24, 2000!!] of Joanne Polk's enlightening second volume traversal ["Under the Stars"] of the complete Amy Beach piano oeuvre. But it has been, and time, that great elucidator and thief, has once again returned me to face the music.

And what music it is, most noticeably for the premiere volume's prescient inclusion of Mrs. Beach's haunting and evocative, nearly thirty-minute-long Variations on Balkan Themes, Op. 60, written in 1904. With a life that bridged two very different centuries, and a fresh musical mind, forever searching, growing and transforming, Beach [1867-1944] could do no less with her innate gifts than to compose with genuine originality, as is evidenced by the emotional depth and lyrical reach of the Variations.

Although pieces such as the Trois morceaux caracteristiques, Op. 28 [1897] and the Scottish Legend and Gavotte fantastique, Op. 54, No.'s 1 and 2 [1903] may smack of the New England "school," the earlier not coincidentally dedicated to MacDowell, they are nonetheless inventive and charming. However, the Op. 114 (By the Still Waters) [1925] and miniatures of Op. 128 [1928], especially No. 2 (Young Birches), show the composer venturing into melodically undefined, but thoroughly gorgeous Lisztian territory.

Out of the Depths, Op. 130, also written in 1928, but not published until 1930, is a wonderful piano "distillation" of Psalm 130, without pretense, and again, not unlike Liszt in its austere sincerity and modernity.

Far Awa' brings us full circle in the most magical of ways. Originally No. 4 from Beach's Op. 43 song cycle of 1899, the composer herself transcribed the work for piano (and organ) in 1935 while at the MacDowell Colony, with ongoing revisions. It's a beautiful, heartfelt piece.

Polk produces exquisite sound, captured warmly by the engineers, undeniably proving the appeal and value of this music. Not only is she a fine pianist, she is at one with the composer. I applaud her talent, and I applaud her efforts to bring Mrs. Beach's endearing creations to life. There is much to immerse oneself in here.

[Running time: 67:55]"
Lovely
Novel Reader | USA | 12/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This CD is a collection of lovely pieces. My favorites are "Menuet Italien," "Scottish Legend," and "Gavotte Fantastique," all of which I've played before, so I think that increases my listening pleasure for them. A Peterboro Chipmunk is neat, too--you can imagine the little creature scampering along and stopping every so often."