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CD Review

Quincy Porter

Unpublished Manuscripts for Violin and Piano

  • Sonata in D minor (1919)
  • Molto moderato (1919)
  • Allegro Appasionata (1919)
  • Sonata in E minor (1926)
  • Berceuse [To Little Helen] (1929)
  • Piece for Violin [To Lois] (1941)
  • Four Pieces for Violin & Piano (1947)
  • Imprivisatons for Violin & Piano [To Lois Porter] (1948)
  • Variations for Violin & Piano [To Oscar Shumsky] (1963)
Frtiz Gearhart, violin
John Owings, piano
Koch International Classics 3-7439-2
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There is really not a whole lot I can say about this wonderful disc. The violinist sent me a copy and I'd never heard of Quincy Porter [1897-1966] before. Turns out he's an American (born and died in Connecticut, but I don't detect anything particularly "American" about his music.

I note no allusions to jazz or folk music. His earliest works brought Brahms Violin Sonatas to mind. In fact, one evening I listened to those very works partially as a result of listening for any parallels. The main comparison overall, however, is that both have a relaxing influence on me. On the other hand, Porter is not a mere Brahmsian atavism. In fact, the very opening of the 1926 Sonata heralds a new sound world. It is one that is unique and I have had a difficult time trying to find some comparison you might grab on to as a means of understanding this music. It is most definitely "Romantic" but there is also a hint of neo-classicism about it. Martinů, Bartók, Prokofieff and even Enescu are names that ended up in my notes.

The musicians are totally inside the music. Just listen to Gearhart playing at about 4:30 into the andante of the Sonata from 1926. It makes me almost run out of breath because he sounds like he is holding that note, exploring its possibilities as if he was holding his breath, too. Owings' piano playing has a liquid touch to the keys. This is emotional playing, no doubt, but not overboard. The recorded sound is just right. This is the sleeper of the year. Thumbs up, Roger, wherever you are.

Copyright © 1999, Robert Stumpf II