Joseph Horowitz

 Joseph Horowitz
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DVORAK'S PROPHECY:

And the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music
 
The “NEW PARADIGM” — SOME NOTABLE REPERTOIRE
“Dvorak's Prophecy” proposes a “new paradigm” for American classical music, emphasizing the legacy of the sorrow songs, the achievements of American composers from the “useless past” preceding World War I, and more recent composers defying modernist expectations.



The Black Virtuoso Tradition

I coined the term “The Black Virtuoso Tradition” to draw attention to a dazzling repertoire of solo piano pieces by American composers, Black and white, feasting on Black vernacular sources. It begins with Louis Moreau Gottschalk and New Orleans Creole influences, and ranges from ragtime to stride piano and beyond. Though one of the highest achievements in American music, it remains neglected because it crosses the boundary between “popular” and “classical.” Steven Mayer has long been the most prominent advocate of this singular American achievement. The wonderful film at hand, incorporating commentary by Steve and myself, was produced and directed by Behrouz Jamali.




Steven Mayer & Joseph Horowitz
produced by Behrouz Jamali

Gottschalk: The Banjo

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), a native of New Orleans, is the earliest American concert composer whose music we still hear — and the earliest to sound “American.” A rapid-fire simulation of plucking and strumming, The Banjo (composed sometime in the 1850s) builds to a breathlessly cascading transformation of Stephen Foster's “Camptown Races.” I would call it the most irresistible keyboard etude composed by an American. Combining Foster's sassy minstrel tune with the salon pyrotechnics of Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg (and Gottschalk had triumphed in French salons), it encapsulates the seamless intermingling of “popular” and “classical,” “high” and “low” predating twentieth century cultural schisms.




Steven Mayer, piano

Chadwick: Jubilee (1897)

Once Boston's most esteemed composer, a salty New Englander who ate in cafeterias and was known to reek of beer, George Whitefield Chadwick (1854-1931) was dismissed by Virgil Thomson and Leonard Bernstein as a “clone” of his German teachers. But Chadwick sounds like Chadwick — and sounds American, when he wishes. His symphonic cameo Jubilee exudes an archetypal American exuberance — the horns quote “Camptown Races” — alternating with a love song Oscar Hammerstein might have set. Its coda gorgeously forecasts the sunset clip-clop of Hollywood cowboys to come. An equally plausible point of reference is Winslow Homer's poetic boyhood romps. Jubilee deserves to be a staple of the American symphonic repertoire.




Eastman Rochester Symphony
conducted by Howard Hanson

Chadwick: String Quartet No. 4 (1896)

Chadwick's enthralling (and absurdly neglected) Fourth String Quartet (1896), with its holiday minstrelsy and hymnody, and rustic pentatonics, unquestionably replies to Dvorak's American Quartet, premiered in Boston three years previous by the Kneisel Quartet and subsequently dubbed the “Nigger Quartet.” That this is the work that provoked Philip Hale to regret the “baleful” influence of the “negrophile” Dvorak on Boston's most eminent composer says it all: Hale heard Chadwick's quartet as Black.




Kohon String Quartet

Dvorak: Humoresque No.4 in F (1894)

Play the opening refrain of this piece and ask people to guess the composer. The inevitable guess (I have done it many times) is George Gershwin. But Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (which Dvorak's tune instantly evokes) was composed more than three decades later.

Dvorak: Humoresque No.7 in G-flat (1894)

We take for granted the familiarity of this tasty little piece without pausing to marvel that it long ago acquired the vernacular pedigree of a veritable American folk morsel.

Dvorak: American Suite (1894)

This stack of American picture postcards exists in versions for orchestra and solo piano. The finale begins with an Indian dance punctuated — like the New World Scherzo -- by ankle bracelets (a triangle) and tom-toms (timpani). When this A minor dance modulates to A major, it becomes a minstrel song. The slow movement evokes the desolate Iowa prairie. There is also a scherzo that features in sequence a jaunty minstrel dance, an aching plantation song, and an elegiac “Indian” refrain redolent of the vanishing Noble Savage. The bleak, whispered reprise of this third motif over a drumming accompaniment, and the ensuing shattered reprise of the sorrow song, comprise a passage as indelible as any in the New World Symphony. The whole is framed by big skies and wide horizons. You can hear something like Stephen Foster, Scott Joplin, and Jerome Kern's Show Boat. You can glean the lyric sweep of Mark Twain's Mississippi River animated with waterfront detail. The painters most exquisitely evoked include both landscapists like George Inness and the genre artists Eastman Johnson, Asher Durand, and George Caleb Bingham.




Benjamin Pasternack, piano

Harry Burleigh: Deep River (1913-17)

Burleigh (1866-1949), Dvorak's one-time assistant in New York City, was instrumental in transforming the sorrow songs into solo concert songs, beginning with “Deep River.” If you've ever heard Marian Anderson or Paul Robeson sing “Deep River,” that's Burleigh.




Marian Anderson with
Franz Rupp (piano)

Harry Burleigh: Steal Away

It has been my privilege to perform Burleigh's spiritual settings with Kevin Deas for more than a dozen years. For me, “Steal Away” is his deepest journey home. Live performance at the Washington National Cathedral.




Kevin Deas with
Joseph Horowitz (piano)

Harry Burleigh: Lovely Dark and Lonely One

If Burleigh's art songs have faded with age, “Lovely Dark and Lonely One,” his sole Langston Hughes setting, is the exception proving the rule.




Darryl Taylor with
Maria Corley (piano)

Arthur Farwell: Navajo War Dance No. 2 (1904)

Arthur Farwell: Pawnee Horses (1905/1937)


If Dvorak's Carnival Overture is an obvious influence on George Chadwick's Jubilee, Arthur Farwell's early keyboard miniatures were undertaken in explicit response to “Dvorak's challenge.” The Indianist movement that Farwell (1872-1952) spearheaded was mainly kitsch. But his fearlessly astringent Navajo War Dance No. 2 (1904) is the closest music to an American Bartok. Charles Martin Loeffler called Farwell's Pawnee Horses for solo piano (1905) “the best composition yet written by an American.” As Loeffler was for a time the most highly regarded American composer, a schooled aristocratic musical personality, a man who also grasped the importance of George Gershwin when others dismissed Gershwin as a gifted dilettante, his opinion means something. The piece itself, setting an Omaha song, is not even two minutes long. A downward cascading chant is framed by galloping figurations. The pianistic lay-out, with multiple hand-crossings, is idiomatic and ingenious. Most memorably, Farwell deploys harmony and texture to create a fragrant aura of mystery; at the close, the gallop dissipates in the treble. Considered as a musical composition, without reference to source or inspiration, Pawnee Horses is indisputably top-notch. In 1937, Farwell created a second version for a cappella chorus; the closing ascent touches a pianissimo high C. The result is an American choral showpiece without precursors or progeny. Farwell remains “America's Forbidden Composer,” off limits partly because of fear — of castigation by a neighbor. I know because I have seen it.




Benjamin Pasternack, piano

University of Texas Chamber Singers conducted by James Morrow

Arthur Farwell: Hako String Quartet (1923)

In the hidden world of Arthur Farwell, Pawnee Horses and Navajo War Dance No. 2 are relatively known. But his biggest Indianist composition, the Hako String Quartet of 1923, is certainly not. I had occasion to present it with student performers at the New England Conservatory in 1999. The late David MacAllester, an eminent authority on Native American music, was at hand to react. McAllister was stunned by the Hako Quartet; he emphasized that it evoked Native American ceremony without attempting “imitation.” That is: the Hako claims no authenticity. Though its inspiration is a Great Plains ritual celebrating a symbolic union of Father and Son, though it incorporates passages evoking a processional, or an owl, or a lighting storm, it does not chart a programmatic narrative. Rather, it is a twenty-minute sonata-form that documents the composer's enthralled subjective response to a gripping Native American ritual. It builds skillfully to an enraptured close, marked “with breadth and exaltation.” It is Arthur Farwell's rapture that is here “authentic.”




Dakota String Quartet

Charles Ives: Symphony No. 2 — Finale (ca. 1907-09)

Though Ives (1874-1954) is today hardly unknown, he has yet to acquire the high pedigree he deserves as an American master to set beside Whitman and Melville. In a 1943 letter, he linked the Finale to his Symphony No. 2 to the “fret and storm and stress for liberty” of the Civil War. Where the marches and dances of the symphony's finale abate for a plaintive horn theme citing Stephen Foster's “Old Black Joe,” Ives (according to his letter) finds inspiration in Foster's “sadness for the slaves.” The passage in question — a lyric high point — is the second subject of the fifth movement (1:45). When the tune returns in the recapitulation (6:40), it is assigned to a solo cello -- the horn and cello being instruments that strikingly evoke the male human singing voice. Ultimately, this culminating movement of Ives's Second takes a patriotic “victory” turn, climaxing with “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” The closing measures add a bugle call: Reveille. Ives's recourse to the vernacular not only secures an American flavor; it enables him to use the past, citing specific elements of the American experience.




The Nashville Symphony conducted by
Kenneth Schermerhorn

Charles Ives: “The St. Gaudens in Boston Common”
from Three Places in New England (ca. 1915-17)


The pregnant references to Black America in Ives's Second Symphony are by no means unique. The “Black March” (1911) beginning his Three Places in New England memorializes Colonel Robert Gould Shaw's legendary Black Civil War regiment as famously depicted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens's Boston Common bas-relief, with its proud Black faces and striding Black bodies. Shaw's regiment perished heroically at Fort Wagner. Ives's ghost-dirge is suffused with weary echoes of Civil War songs, plantation songs, minstrel songs: a fog of memory, a dream distillation whose hypnotic tread and consecrating “Amen” close celebrate an act of stoic fortitude. Like Saint-Gaudens's sculpture, Ives's “The St. Gaudens in Boston Common,” with its song shards, less describes than memorializes a remembered event. The Black vernacular is here not appropriated — it is not his — but retrospectively observed with admiration and respect. At the same time, snatches of ragtime look forward to Black music to come.

Charles Ives: “The Housatonic at Stockbridge”
from Three Places in New England (ca. 1912-17)


Recalling a placid river, Ives is here stirred to invoke, by way of restless contradiction, the elemental sea. The dissipating sonic aureole concluding The Housatonic at Stockbridge (in both its versions for voice and for orchestra) demonstrates an aesthetic sophistication as genuine as any to be found among the modernists who questioned Ives's compositional pedigree. Personally, I find this cameo the most magical nature music in the American symphonic literature.




The Malmo Symphony conducted
by James Sinclair

Charles Ives: Concord Piano Sonata — movement 4 (“Thoreau”) (ca. 1918-19)

“Thoreau” is a contemplative nature poem culminating with the shudder of tolling bells heard at a distance over Walden Pond — a vibratory ecstasy. Here the Concord Sonata's four-note Beethoven motto, pervasive throughout, sublimates as a “human faith melody.” Ives's kinship to Beethoven in the Concord takes other forms. The spirit of heroic adventure is Beethoven's. The sonata's ethereal close, its way of dematerializing, evokes Beethoven's late piano sonatas Op. 109 and 111. For Beethoven, however, the Fifth Symphony's pounding motto is “fate knocking at the door.” For Ives, the motto conveys a sanguine moral imperative: “the soul of humanity knocking at the door of the Divine mysteries, radiant in the faith it will be opened — and the human become the Divine!”




Steven Mayer, piano

Charles Tomlinson Griffes: Piano Sonata (1917)

The most original fin-de-siecle American compositional talent, after Ives, was Charles Tomlinson Griffes, who died young in 1920. Griffes' vertiginous, hallucinatory Piano Sonata (1918) marries exotic influences — Scriabin and Orientalism — to a New World ferocity. William Masselos's terrific 1957 recording is the classic account.




William Masselos, piano

Aaron Copland: Piano Variations (1930)

The composer Roger Sessions once quipped that Aaron Copland was “more talented than he realized.” Copland began not as the populist he became via an act of conscience, but as a modernist “wild man” whose Piano Variations emptied parties when pounded out by Leonard Bernstein. A bracing wake-up call, skyscraper music of steel and concrete, it announced a new American sound whose angular rhythms and dissonant tonal shards vibrated with the jazzy intensity and nervous energy of Copland's New York.

Aaron Copland: Piano Fantasy (1951-57)

Two decades after the Piano Variations, Copland abandoned the new listeners he had once courted. Closing a circle, he wound up writing non-tonal music for an elite audience. His valedictory, the 35-minute Piano Fantasy tested his waning powers; it cost him six years of effort. In Ben Pasternack's performances, this challenging music achieves a searing culminating poignance. Pasternack himself (in my film “Aaron Copland: American Populist”) comments: “I find the Fantasy a fascinating world to inhabit. It causes the same type of searching in the listener as great works by great composers previous to him.”




Benjamin Pasternack, piano

George Gershwin: “My Man's Gone Now”
from Porgy and Bess (1935)


For me, the most memorable performance of any Gershwin song is Ruby Elzy's lament for the departed composer, at the Gershwin Memorial Concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1937. A member of the original Porgy and Bess cast, Elzy succumbed to a botched operation for a benign tumor in 1943 at the age of 35 in a Detroit ghetto hospital. She was preparing to sing Aida with the National Negro Opera Company — which in the 1940s successfully mounted Aida, La traviata, and Carmen.




Ruby Elzy with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by
Alexander Steinert

George Gershwin: “Oh Bess, oh where's my Bess?”
from Porgy and Bess


The first singer to record Porgy's songs was not Todd Duncan, from the original cast, but the supreme American operatic baritone: Lawrence Tibbett. A complete artist, Tibbett excelled in dialect songs: his signature numbers included “De Glory Road”; his triumphs at the Metropolitan Opera included the title role in Louis Gruenberg's The Emperor Jones (sung in blackface). Tibbett's rendition of Porgy's great lament actually sounds “blacker” than Duncan's. Porgy's odyssey of a cripple made whole — the brainchild not of DuBose Heyward or the Gershwins, but of the director Rouben Mamoulian — transcends race.




Lawrence Tibbett with Decca Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alexander Smallens

George Gershwin: “I love you, Porgy” from Porgy and Bess

James Baldwin said that Billie Holliday would be the perfect Bess. Both Holiday and Nina Simone made something special of Bess's self-knowing “I loves you, Porgy.” Like her contemporary Hazel Scott, Simone was a trained concert pianist. Like Holiday and Scott, she was targeted by the Red Scare.




Nina Simone, piano

George Gershwin: Cuban Overture (1932)

Why in the world isn't this piece better-known? Maybe it's because the contrapuntal sophistication of Andalusian middle section long confounded notions of Gershwin the unschooled genius.




James Judd conducting the
New Zealand Symphony

Nathaniel Dett: The Ordering of Moses (1932)

Dett created his own text, skillfully culled from scripture and folklore, to narrate the flight from Egypt. The musical setting is hot with pathos and ecstasy, with the spirit of the sorrow song and of African song and dance, all channeled via his concentrated Hampton Institute milieu. Of Manhattan's high-toned concerts and opera, of Hollywood's glamour and sheen, there is not a whiff. And yet evidence of Dett's musical sophistication is omnipresent in the effortless counterpoint, the pungent chromatic palette, the instrumental panache of the writing. The presence of spirituals that are — as he put it — “more or less invisibly related to their source” is complemented by the invisibility of the other music well-known to him (his Hampton repertoire regularly featured Russian liturgical numbers). The role of Moses is boldly assigned to a tenor, not the accustomed baritone or bass — here “The Voice of God” and “The Word.” A four-note rhythm with the accented passing tone sometimes called the “Scotch snap” (it happens to be identical to that of the lead leitmotif in Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony) is pervasive, and implicitly morphs into the four syllables of “Go Down, Moses” — another pervasive presence. A central interlude describes the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, then the calamity inflicted upon Pharaoh's chariots. The final rite of triumph is shrewdly capped by a high C for a solo soprano (Miriam) in rapturous duet with Moses. The recording to hear is the one fervently conducted by William Dawson — not the better-known Cincinnati Symphony version.




The Mobile Symphony, Talladega College Choir, and soloists conducted by
William Dawson

William Levi Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony

The 1934 premiere, by Leopold Stokowski and his incomparable Philadelphia Orchestra, ignited storms of praise. Stokowski returned to the work in 1963, recording it with his American Symphony — a spectacular performance hiding in plain site on youtube. If you want to hear what all the excitement was about, sample the ending of “Hope in the Night” — the central slow movement. The movement begins with a dolorous English horn tune not cradled by strings, as in Dvorak's Largo, but set atop a parched pizzicato accompaniment: “a melody,” Dawson writes in a program note, “that describes the characteristics, hopes, and longings of a Folk held in darkness.” A weary journey into the light ensues. Its eventual climax is punctuated by a clamor of chimes: chains of servitude. Finally, three gong strokes that prefaced the movement — “the Trinity,” says Dawson, “who guides forever the destiny of man” -- are amplified by a seismic throb of chimes and timpani. This culminating three-fold groundswell is the original inspiration that shocked audiences into a state of high arousal eight decades ago. Elsewhere, Dawson quotes spirituals and deploys a heraldic horn call symbolically linking Africa and America. In terms of structure, this remarkable first symphony transcends prefabrication. Its lightning physicality of gesture exudes spontaneity, even improvisation. If the symphony's governing mold is European and (as Langston Hughes put it) “standardized,” Dawson retains proximity to the vernacular: he seizes the humor, pathos, and tragedy of the sorrow songs with an oracular vehemence.




The American Symphony conducted by
Leopold Stokowski





The Vienna Radio Orchestra
conducted by Arthur Fagen

Margaret Bonds: Three Dream Portraits (1959)

In the post-Dvorak lineage, Florence Price's protegee Margaret Bonds (1913-1972) was a prolific composer commanding both originality and versatility. Her bigger pieces, requiring editorial attention, have barely begun to circulate. Her 1967 description of her style as “jazzy and bluesy and spiritual and Tchaikovsky all rolled up into one” is just — and suggests that she may ultimately become known as a polystylistic harbinger of postmodern things to come. It also bears mentioning that Langston Hughes, whatever his earlier misgivings about the concert hall, collaborated with Bonds for three decades; as of this writing, their voluminous correspondence remains unseen. Bonds' outstanding Hughes settings include the Three Dream Portraits of 1959.


Click the links below to listen to

Will Liverman with
Paul Sanchez (piano)

I. Minstrel Man
II. Dream Variation
III. I, Too

Bernard Herrmann: Souvenirs de Voyage (Clarinet Quintet) (1967)

I would call Herrmann the most under-rated twentieth century American composer. Listeners new to his concert output should start with his intoxicating 1967 clarinet quintet, Souvenirs de Voyage — music kindred to the famous love music he supplied for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. It is a stubbornly inward work, suffused with nostalgia and melancholy. It also furnishes an irresistible vehicle for the range and seamless legato of the clarinet. The liquid ebb and flow of sound, the lapping waves of song, acquire a barely perceptible cumulative momentum, an intensification of multiplying eddies and ripples. When the long first movement's hypnotic molto tranquillo beginning returns at the close, we feel we have journeyed somewhere, even if that makes no ultimate difference in a world of sadness and remembrance. Herrmann once confessed, “My feelings and yearnings are those of a composer of the nineteenth century. I am completely out of step with the present.” His favorite composers, an unfashionable twentieth-century list, included Debussy, Ravel, Elgar, Delius, Holst, and Ives.

Bernard Herrmann: Psycho narrative for string orchestra (1968)

This is Herrmann's own, potently constructed synthesis; the better known Psycho Suite is just a collection of cues.




PostClassical Ensemble: David Jones (clarinet) with Netanel Draiblate and Eva Capelletti Chao (violins), Philippe Chao (viola), and Benjamin Capps

PostClassical Ensemble conducted by
Angel Gil-Ordoñez

Silvestre Revueltas: Redes (1937)

Like Gershwin, Revueltas was a born populist long denigrated by modernists as a gifted dilettante. Absent symphony, concerto, and opera, the Revueltas catalogue bristles with seeming bits and pieces. Among his peak achievements is the score for the 1935 film Redes, an uneasy partnership with Paul Strand and Fred Zinnemann. The former — like Copland, like John Steinbeck and Langston Hughes — sought inspiration from Mexico's artists on the left. The latter — later the Hollywood director of High Noon -- was in flight from Hitler's Europe. The “nets” of the title ensnare both fish and poor fishermen. The resulting film is as epic and iconic, flawed and unfinished as the Mexican Revolution itself. Revueltas's score — a peak achievement in music for the cinema -- throbs with pathos and majesty. The excerpts here comprise a child's funeral, an ecstatic fishing sequence, and the film's heroic ending: rowing music for fishermen storming the city and its exploitive market.




PostClassical Ensemble conducted by
Angel Gil-Ordoñez

Track 04: Funeral
Track 09: Unity
Track 10: Finale

Silvestre Revueltas: Homenaje a García Lorca (1937)

Revueltas, the outsider, disdained formal instruction as a composer. Instead, the local banda, with its shrill clarinets and trumpets and booming tuba, tutored his ear. He absorbed other influences as he saw fit. Though he partook of modernism and nationalism, his core affinity was political: like the Mexican muralists, he cherished the arts as instruments for social and political change. He spurned tradition in pursuit of idiosyncratic forms imparting impassioned spontaneity. He drank hard and died young, in 1940. The poet Octavio Paz wrote: “All his music seems preceded by something that is not simply joy and exhilaration, as some believe, or satire and irony, as others believe. That element, better and more pure, . . . is his profound empathy with his surroundings . . . His music occupies a place in our hearts above that of the grandiose Mexican murals, that seem to know all except pity.” In the Homenaje a Garcia Lorca, the middle movement is a dirge in remembrance of the Spanish poet. The outer movements bristle with vernacular grit — and in “Son” quote actual street-cries (at 8:24).




Werner Herbers conducting
Ebony Band Amsterdam

Lou Harrison: Concerto for Violin and Percussion (1940/1959)

If you asked me who composed the best American violin concerto, and who composed the best American piano concerto, I would answer with the same name: Lou Harrison. And yet, except on the West Coast of the United States, Harrison is not a brand name. Harrison invented the percussion ensemble with John Cage and Henry Cowell. With Cage, he plundered junkyards and import stores in search of new percussion resources. Their implements included old brake drums and a variety of Japanese, Chinese, and Indian instruments. The eminence gris of American percussion, William Kraft, once told me: “It was totally new to explore Asian percussion and junk percussion, as Cowell, Cage, and Harrison did. I found Lou's percussion writing more fascinating than Cowell's or Cage's. I think he was the most musical, and the most in tune with sound. I think the Harrison Concerto for Violin and Percussion is a masterpiece — you don't find music like that written by Cowell or Cage. The solo part for the violin is a virtuoso part, extremely well written. And all the sounds, whether produced by maracas or flower pots, are so well integrated that you forget that they're exotic.” You could say that Harrison's concerto combines the experimental panache of an amateur with the craft of a professional. The first two movements were composed in 1940, then revised in 1959 when the finale was added. Harrison gratefully acknowledged the influence of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto of 1935: “among the highest musical achievements of the century. . . . It really walloped me.” Berg's molto espressivo violin writing echoes through Harrison's score. There are also precise percussion instructions in Harrison's exquisite hand — “For the washtubs, drill holes (4) up from center on the sides of inverted galvanized iron tubs & suspend by strong elastic cords.” For the coffee cans, “cork or rubber-ended pen-holders make good beaters . . . & are best for the clock coils as well.”




Tim Fain (violin) with
PostClassical Ensemble conducted by
Angel Gil-Ordoñez

Lou Harrison: Piano Concerto (1985)

The music of Lou Harrison represents a rare opportunity for advocacy. To begin with, he is unquestionably a major late 20th century composer, and yet little-known. Also, he is both highly accessible and stupendously original. And he is the composer of a Piano Concerto which should be standard repertoire for every American orchestra of consequence. The first movement is a sonorous canyon, as vast as the American West. Compositionally, it's a technical tour de force: a sonata form whose trajectory does not depend on directional harmony. Instead, Harrison uses rising scales and intensifying textures to drive toward a refulgent recapitulation. The second movement is one of Harrison's “Stampede” scherzos — a tremendous moto perpetuo for the soloist, whose part includes a wooden “octave bar” for rapid-fire octave clusters on the black or white keys. The big third movement follows like a balm — it seals the concerto's majestic amplitude. This Largo is a hymn sung with such gravitas that the Adagio of Brahms' D minor Piano Concerto becomes a plausible point of reference. And yet Harrison's finale is not a big Brahmsian rondo but — another original touch — a mere codetta: an ending perfectly gauged. (Though the concerto was written for Keith Jarrett, Jarrett's recording shortchanges many expressive possibilities.) Harrison's music is an original, precise, and yet elusive product of far-flung cultural excursions. His American roots are wonderfully protean. American is his self-made, learn-by-doing, try-everything approach. So is his polyglot range of affinities. He espoused “world music” before there was a name for it.




Ursula Oppens (piano) with the La Scala Orchestra conducted by
Dennis Russell Davies