Review from American Record Guide for “Our American Roots”
GERSHWIN: It Ain’t Necessarily So; My Man’s Gone Now; 3 Preludes; BARBER, WALKER: Cello Sonatas; COPLAND: Waltz; Celebration
Emmanuel Feldman, vc; Joy Cline Phinney, p Delos 3449—54 minutes
This program combines varied aspects of American music in a convincing manner. Feldman and Phinney both have a feeling for all of the different elements that make up our background and put them across the footlights well. The Gershwin transcriptions begin with two from Porgy & Bess by Jascha Heifetz, rescored into the cello range by Feldman. Gershwin had such a subtle feeling for the melodies and harmonies of the blues that he had me weeping. The transcriptions are also calculated to show off the instrument’s technical possibilities to the utmost. Feldman and Phinney play them with verve and enjoyment. The following preludes, originally for piano, are almost as moving, arranged more straightforwardly by Feldman.
We then move on to Samuel Barber’s sonata. Coming after the outgoing Gershwin idiom, I found myself appreciating the ethnic elements in the Barber more than usual. It is played with passion. George Walker’s three-movement sonata is more abstract in idiom and very demanding to play. Walker has not met with a great deal of luck in getting his works before the public. This sonata has only been recorded once or twice before. I performed it once with Max Lifchitz. This reading is full of rhythmic subtlety and virtuoso playing that these artists express with a rich tone and fine technique.
The program ends with arrangements of two excerpts from Copland’s ballet Billy the Kid arranged by the composer. This returns us to the more melodic and popular side of America and makes a fine close to a well-played program. The sound is excellent and, if it were only for the unfamiliar Walker Sonata, it is worth considering.