'William Schuman: Violin Concerto, New England Triptych; Charles Ives: Variations on "America",' (Orchestration by William Schuman)
Philip Quint, Violin, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, José Serebrier, Cond. Naxos American Classics
William Schuman (1910-83) made his mark on American classical music in the mid 20th century as an innovative music educator, administrator, and orchestral composer. Although he started out as writer of popular songs (with his friend Frank Loesser), hearing a New York Philharmonic concert at age 20 immediately changed his focus to serious art music. He became president of the Juilliard School in 1945, instituted the then radical concept that music education is valuable in every student's personal development, and started the Juilliard String Quartet. In 1962 he became president of Lincoln Center, securing commissions for many American composers. The Violin Concerto on this disc is representative of the ten symphonies he wrote: essentially tonal, using dissonance, polytonality, rhythmic intensity, and leaping intervals of fourths and sevenths to create a powerful musical statement.
The concerto fuses romanticism and dissonance into a vibrant, compelling tapestry of alternating dramatic and lyrical sections, but is at heart a concerto in the virtuoso tradition. Russian-born Phillip Quint's vibrant and piercing tone mirrors the violin's anxious collaboration with the orchestra, yet he's lyrically compelling in moments of repose. His technique is secure, his intonation spot on, and he's virtuosic without calling attention to virtuosity. Serebrier accompanies effectively. Schuman's Violin Concerto is an impressive work-it deserves to be played in the concert hall. The delightful New England Triptych and Schuman's witty and ingenious orchestration of Ives' Variations on "America" fill out a welcome tribute to a major contributor to American classical music.