Scott Watkins

Scott Watkins: American Piano Sonatas

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Artist: Scott Watkins

Artist: Scott Watkins
Title: American Piano Sonatas

Throughout his international career, American pianist Scott Watkins has been a committed advocate for American music. Winner of the prestigious Artistic Ambassador Award in 1985, Watkins presented the world premiere of Elie Siegmeister's 'From These Shores,' in South America during a two-month-long concert tour. Since then the pianist has become a champion of the rich and diverse repertoire of America's composers from Edward MacDowell to today's composers. The cover of Watkins' third album, American Piano Sonatas, recalls the pioneering and energetic spirit of the west, a spirit that Watkins brought to the research and performance preparation of this recording. Of the three performances captured on this album, it is Howard Hanson's Piano Sonata in A minor, Op. 11, that perhaps shines the brightest. Composed in California in 1918, the Sonata was long believed to exist only as an incomplete work until a completed manuscript was discovered in 2005. The Sonata is published by Carl Fischer and is heard for the first time, in it's entirety, on this album. Howard Hanson, of course, remains one of America's iconic musical figures. He was the director of The Eastman School of Music from 1924 to 1964, and his music (including his Piano Sonata, seven Symphonies, and a Piano Concerto to name just a few works) is lavishly orchestrated and replete with pungent, heart-wrending harmonies and soaring melodies. Widely considered the father of American Opera, Carlisle Floyd's dramatic Piano Sonata was composed in 1956, and after it's premiere at Carnegie Hall the following year by the great pianist Rudolf Firkusny faded unjustifiably from memory. The work, according to the composer, concerns itself with the color and sound of the piano, and features extreme ranges of the instrument, and how opposing sonorities combine to sustain a wide range of colors. There is a real, almost operatic, dramatic direction in the phrasing and pacing of the music. William Schirmer's pleasant Piano Sonata No. 17 rounds out the program. This work is tightly organized with clear structural outlines and affable harmonies. It is at once pianistic and colorful. Critics have noted that as a pianist, Scott Watkins is 'a polished player in his prime,' and one who 'keeps an ear open at all times for the composer's voice.'

1.1 Piano Sonata in a Minor, Op. 11, I. Andante Espressivo: Quietly with Sincerity
1.2 Piano Sonata in a Minor, Op. 11, II. Heroic Elegy: Slowly, Quietly, But with Finality
1.3 Piano Sonata in a Minor, Op. 11, III. Triumphal Ode: Allegro Marziale, with Vigor
1.4 Piano Sonata No. 17 (1974), I. Allegro Moderato
1.5 Piano Sonata No. 17 (1974), II. Lento
1.6 Piano Sonata No. 17 (1974), III. Allegro
1.7 Piano Sonata (1956), I. Allegro Risoluto
1.8 Piano Sonata (1956), II. Lento Assai - Andante Con Moto - Tempo I
1.9 Piano Sonata (1956), III. Deciso

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