Persichetti: Symphony for Strings, Piano Concerto. Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti (Symphony), Charles Dutoit (Concerto) New World Records. It’s been a long time since I first encountered the music of Persichetti by playing his wind ensemble music, which is probably the way most American musicians first get to know his work. (The Symphony for Band is one of the great classics of the medium.) Less frequently encountered is Persichetti’s orchestral music. The harmonic idiom is a bit darker than I recall from the band music, but consistently attractive. Like so much mid-20th century American music, this is repertoire that really should be more widely played. The performances are excellent, as one would expect from the Philadelphia, though the last movement of the concerto is ill-served by the overly rapid pace set by Dutoit.
Shelly Manne and His Friends, Vol. 2 (Andre Previn, piano; Leroy Vinnegar, bass; Shelley Manne, drums) Contemporary Records. The centrality of the Broadway musical to the American musical scene in the middle of the last century was such that there developed a fad for jazz interpretations of the scores from the shows – not just individual tunes, but entire albums devoted to the shows. I believe the present 1956 album of songs from “My Fair Lady” is the first of its kind. All the players are brilliant, the arrangements are charming, but there is something a little superficial here; it’s a sort of highly sophisticated piano lounge music.