This is an outwardly charming and melodious work, but strangely alien to MacDowell’s general high tone. The usual significant poetic matter is absent, but unlike the pianoforte concertos (Ops. 15 and 23), which are also abstract works, the piece is altogether inferior in artistic value, even if we look upon it as an early attempt, for preceding pieces are, at least, more sincere. The two following numbers, 36 (Etude de Concert for Pianoforte) and 37 (Les Orientales for Pianoforte), and this Romance for Violoncello and Orchestra present a sequence of creative work unworthy of MacDowell, a falling off common to most composers of standing at some time or other. The technical side of the work is fair, the tone quality of the violoncello having been evidently considered. The piece is dedicated to Popper, whose name is familiar to all ’cello players.
OPUS 36. ETUDE DE CONCERT, IN F SHARP, FOR PIANOFORTE.
Composed, Boston, U.S.A., 1889. First Published, 1889 (Arthur P. Schmidt).
“Don’t put that dreadful thing on your programme,” was the burden of a telegram MacDowell once despatched to Teresa Carreno when he heard she was to play the Etude de Concert in F sharp, so we know that the composer himself came, later on, to recognise the inferior quality of this work. It is good enough for the salon composer and the show pianist, but as coming from MacDowell’s pen it made a poor start as practically the first thing he composed on his return to his native country in 1888, especially as he had been preceded there by his good European reputation. The brilliant pianistic effect of the piece, however, is undeniable.
OPUS 37. LES ORIENTALES, FOR PIANOFORTE.
Composed, Boston, 1889. First Published, 1889 (Arthur P. Schmidt).
1. Clair de Lune.
2. Dans le Hamac.
3. Danse Andalouse.
The first work produced by MacDowell in Boston, Etude de Concert, Op. 36, was followed by music of equally poor quality, in the composer’s opinion. The pieces under notice are after Hugo’s Les Orientales, and although tolerably suggestive of their titles, are of such poor inspiration that they have little or no musical value outside the salon type of compositions that the composer himself abhorred. Even the pretty Clair de Lune is shallow stuff, although it has attained some popularity as a melodious solo, both in its original version and in its arrangement for violin and pianoforte.
OPUS 38. EIGHT (formerly Six) LITTLE PIECES, MARIONETTES, FOR PIANOFORTE.
Composed about 1888. Revised and rearranged by the Composer, 1901. First Published, 1888 (J. Hainauer. Revised Version, 1901—Arthur P. Schmidt).
Dedicated to Miss Nina Nevins.