PAUL SCHOENFIELD (b.1947): Four Parables for Piano and Orchestra, Four Souvenirs for Violin and Piano, Cafe Music for Piano Trio.
Catalogue Number: 10J095
Label: Black Box
Reference: BBM 1109
Description: This is priceless. Very seldom do broad vernacular elements get incorporated into concert music of total self-assurance and sophistication and the results emerge sounding neither patronising nor stilted. Gershwin, Bernstein, Bolcom, but very few others have been entirely successful; Schoenfield belongs in their company. The comparison with Gershwin in the Parables, is obvious (and freely acknowledged), but Schoenfield's more modern idiom doesn't sound especially like the earlier composer except in the sheer infectious brilliance of his wholly idiomatic jazz, swing and blues. Stylistic and thematic borrowings from Bartók, Sibelius and Beethoven just serve to add to the composer's 'concert hall' credentials, without detracting one iota from the exuberant fun of the thing. Add to this the fact that the four movements each treat a serious (not to say disturbing) existential subject, and the work emerges as a powerful quasi-symphonic statement of Romantic scope, that happens to be expressed in terms of American popular culture of the 20th century. The chamber works too sound as though they're trying not quite to belong in the concert hall, but of course they do; you won't hear anything this smartly put together in a café, but their evocation of an idealised popular entertainment is flawless. Andrew Russo (piano), Prague Philharmonia; JoAnn Faletta, James Ehnes (violin), Edward Arron (cello).