(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music on this disc will come as a heart-warming discovery to listeners interested in quality music that occupies a part of the repertoire off the beaten path. The Symphony no. 4 evokes an unmistakably American atmosphere without resorting to cliches. This fine four-movement, 24-minute work is thematically rich and yet economical in structure. Piston's style has a certain Stravinskian brittleness at times but this is balanced with his gift for assimilating a subtly folksy tunefulness. The Capriccio and the three-movement Serenata (a bite-sized symphony) are similarly rewarding pieces: there is nothing lush and romantic about them but they grow on you with repeated listening. The Three New England Sketches consists of movements entitled "Seaside", "Summer Evening" and "Mountains". Again, Piston's penchant for painting in subtle colors is on display; for example, "Seaside" avoids the cliches that we sometimes associate with musical depictions of the sea. That hushed bassoon solo near the end of the movement is reminscent of some kind sailor chant as heard from a distance--highly evocative! The other two movements also hint at their respective subjects in wisps rather than with lush romantic imagery.Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony give exceptionally fine performances and are very well recorded."