The Canadian pianist and composer Andre Mathieu is easily one of the great unsung composers of the 20th century; for while he was quite prolific, not only was much of his work not very well known, he also didn't live a particularly long life, dying at the age of 39 in 1968. But in recent years, there has been a rediscovering of his works. And one of the great examples of this can be found on this fine recording.
Featuring Mathieu's impressionistic "Scenes De Ballet" (Ballet Scenes) and the Four Songs for Chorus and Orchestra, which bears a similarity to the short works for chorus and orchestra that Brahms had composed a century earlier, this CD from the Canadian label Analekta also contains the composer's lengthy but brilliant 1950 Piano Concerto No. 4 In E Minor, a sweeping piece of 20th century Romanticism if ever there was one (no less an authority than Rachmaninoff himself deemed the young Mathieu in 1939 a genius). The concerto gets an incredible performance here (possibly its world premiere performance, even if the liner notes on the CD don't say for sure) by Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre.
Just as impressive, however, is the performance given by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra under the direction of its music director George Hanson, with the Tucson Symphony Chorus featured in Mathieu's "Four Songs." Here, both orchestra and chorus have made their very first ever recording in their nearly eight decade-long existence. The precision that Hanson and the orchestra, along with the chorus (prepared by Bruce Chamberlain), and Lefevre display here is incredible, doing both Mathieu and the Tucson classical music audience proud.
Tucson has long rightly boasted about being the hometown of one of the great female pop music icons of the last fifty years, Linda Ronstadt. Now, thanks to this recording, this lush desert city in southeastern Arizona can soon boast about find itself on, at the very least, the regional classical music map of America as well.