WORKS: Four Parables; Vaudeville; Klezmer Rondos
PERFORMER: Jeffrey Kahane (piano), Wolfgang Basch (piccolo trumpet), Carol Wincenc (flute)New World Symphony/John Nelson
CATALOGUE NO: 440 212-2 DDD
This solo disc of Paul Schoenfield, an American composer little known in Britain, reveals a refreshingly broad musical vocabulary that disregards traditional stylistic boundaries and an ability to engage and entertain.
Four Parables for piano and orchestra draws on real-life experiences ‘along the lines that… an author would develop a story’. Schoenfield is an engrossing storyteller, delighting and moving, with his kaleidoscope of Shostakovich-like piano writing, conjuring the vital townscape of West Side Story, a jazz-club atmosphere, children’s music and the ceremonial ritual of religious fanatics.
Programmatic thinking is also present in Vaudeville, where the format of an overture and several acts produces music redolent of ragtime, jazz and the circus. But there are oddities, such as the, in fact, rather apt reference to Stravinsky’s Petrushka and the extraordinary interpolation of a Brucknerian harmonic sequence leading into the
Brazilian folksong ‘Tico-tico’. The piccolo trumpet, as solo instrument, is a strange choice since, although capable of very high notes, it’s far less razzy than the standard B flat, whose bent notes and lip trills are more convincingly executed by the New World Symphony’s principal trumpet.
The soloists, Jeffrey Kahane (piano) and Wolfgang Basch (trumpet), plus Carol Wincenc in Klezmer Rondos, a one-movement work based on Jewish music, all rise to the occasion, with stylish orchestral playing under John Nelson. Deborah Calland