Bernstein - Barber - Gershwin
|Irène and Yvonne Bugod|
Leonard BERNSTEIN, Symphonic
Dances from "West Side Story" (1957), arranged for two pianos
by John Musto
George GERSHWIN, Rhapsody in Blue (1924), original version for two pianos
Identical twins Irène
and Yvonne Bugod have taken every step of their careers together.
Born in Bucharest, where they began their piano studies, they went on
to the Conservatoire Royal in Brussels, joining the piano class of Jenny
Solheid and the chamber music class of Louis Poulet, and received the
Superior Diploma in both disciplines. They furthered their studies with
Marguerite David as well as with Yvonne Lefébure, Noël Lee,
Jörg Demus and Theodor Guschlbauer.
It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that American music was ready to disengage itself from its European roots. Charles Ives' non-conformism, the influence of jazz and Latin-American music, followed by technological advances - notably in the film industry - were the chief motors of this development. It was the desire of composers to write more widely accessible music that was to assure the great success of American composition, of which the pieces on the present recording are among the most popular.
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
appreciated for many years that a form of authentic musical theatre could
be developed from what had been known as musical comedy. The new form
was born in 1957 with the appearance of West Side Story, which
took Broadway by storm. European theatrical elements were fused with American
to become a synthesis lying somewhere between opera and musical comedy.
Bernstein borrowed complex vocal ensembles, the application of music as
the motor of the action, leitmotifs and development techniques from the
European tradition. From America he added the sounds and characteristic
figures and fluidity of jazz and Latin-American music. Above all, he adapted
a motion-based approach to composing for the theatre, to be found in concentrated
form in the Symphonic Dances.
Of all 20th-century
American composers, Samuel Barber (1910-1981) kept the greatest
distance from experimental currents, allowing himself to maintain an expressive
and lyrical style, and adopt a consistently tonal approach to all his
works. He described the circumstances surrounding the composition of his
Souvenirs, op. 28 in these terms: "In 1952 I wrote this suite
of piano duets to play with a friend. Later I orchestrated it for concert
use and several ballet companies have danced it, to various choreographies.
Had I myself been choreographer I might have imagined a divertissement
in a setting reminiscent of the Palm Court of the Hotel Plaza in New York;
the year about 1914, epoch of the first tangos. Souvenirs - remembered
with affection, not in irony or with tongue in cheek, but in amused tenderness."
Despite receiving only limited formal
musical training, George Gershwin (1898-1937) developed the ambition
to become a serious composer relatively young. Rhapsody in Blue,
commissioned by Paul Whiteman to be "An Experiment in Modern Music",
for the first "official" concert of symphonic jazz in America,
is entirely in keeping with the concept of the project. Invited to write
a "jazz concerto", Gershwin proposed instead a freestyle rhapsody,
in the manner of Lizst's, but in the spirit of jazz. The manuscript calls
explicitly for "jazz band and piano".