Composer John Knowles Paine is owed a debt by many American music majors, for he established a pattern that was copied by numerous other university music deparments when he founded the music department at Harvard. He was trained in Germany and wrote the Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 23, arguably the first full-scale American symphony composed along European lines. A few of his large-scale choral works are also performed, but the piano works collected here have remained largely obscure. They follow various models that Paine would have encountered in Europe, but Christopher Atzinger effectively teases out the distinctive features. As a composer of piano music, Paine is at his best when he is humorous and homey. There aren't really characteristically American features of his music; that would come with the following generation. But one piece, the "Fuga Giocosa" from the Three Piano Pieces, Op. 41, quotes an American baseball song (now itself little known), in a delightful meeting of academic and vernacular. Some of Paine's pieces sound like accomplished student pieces, but A Funeral March in Memory of President Lincoln, Op. 9, and several others have the mark of true feeling. In general, there is ambition here rather than the mark of the salon. Recommended for those interested in early American classical music.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|In the Country: Ten Sketches for the Piano, Op. 26|
|Three Piano Pieces, Op. 41|
|Four Characteristic Pieces, Op. 25|