At a time when political correctness and diversity in the arts (now with respect to female composers) is demanded, I still wonder why we don’t see large orchestras and well known pianists taking up the work of Amy Beach (1867-1944), who was married to a much older doctor for much of her life. Of all female composers whose lives started with 19th century romanticism ('life as you would like it to be' according to my own high school English teacher), her output is the largest.
The Piano Concerto in C# Minor, Op. 45 (1899) sometimes sounds almost like another Brahms concerto. There is a declamatory opening theme in the most minor of all keys, with a short orchestral ritornel, before the piano enters, and soon takes us to a second theme, and then a very active development and recapitulation with lots of rich harmonies, syncopation and modulations. There is an extensive cadenza (apart from Brahms) before the movement ends with violence, reminding one of how the first movement of the Brahms Concerto 1 ends.
There is a brief 'perpetual motion' scherzo, and then a relatively brief slow movement in F# Minor that amounts to a song without words. The finale starts out as a laid back rondo that gradually becomes more intense, to end with triumph in the Picardy D-flat major.
The video is supplied by S.P.'s Score Videos, performed by Joanne Polk, English Chamber Orchestra, Paul Goodwin, and licensed to YT by the Orchard (is that the movie distributor?) I have the Vox Turnabout CD.
The Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, (1896), the 'Gaelic', has been compared to Dvorak;s New World, in the same key. The overall harmonic styles are similar (as both somewhat relate to Brahms). But Beach’s first movement has no slow introduction, and starts with a rush in the strings, and is rather compact. Her scherzo and slow movement are apparently based on Gaelic folk songs, as is the big tune that closes the finale. Like the Piano Concerto, this work would become a big crowd pleaser if conductors would try it.
Neemi Jarvi performs with the Detroit Symphony, from score provided by TheOneandOnlyOne, licensed by Naxos. I have the Chandos CD.
(Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 2 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)