Myron Silberstein Masters Creston’s Rhythmicons

Paul Creston’s heyday was the immediate postwar period. Through the 1960s, he was one of the most frequently performed American composers. And with good reason. 

Creston was a self-taught composer, who never fully abandoned late-Romantic tonality. And yet his fascination with rhythm took his music in new directions. 

Creston was also a pianist and organist. His most enduring works may be his concertos for marimba and alto saxophone.  

But some of his most interesting are for the piano. As this new album demonstrates. 

Creston’s exploration of rhythm led to a series of piano works he termed “Rhythmicons.” He published ten volumes of these rhythmic etudes. And each volume was more complex than the previous. Myron Silberstein presents the final four volumes, each piece in sequence. 

This allows the listener to hear the development as the series progresses. At the same time, it shows the impressive variety of music Creston created for this project. Some of these pieces are quite serious, a few bordering on the academic. 

But then there are pieces like the Psychedelic Waltz (No. 118), Jaunty James (No. 116), and Secret Game (No. 110). They’re all light-hearted, and good fun — if you have the chops to play them. 

Myron Silberstein does. He delivers on technique and musicality. All the notes are there. The complex rhythms and complex cross-rhythms are played with metronome accuracy. But he also plays with emotion. 

These pieces don’t sound like formal exercises. They sound like spontaneous creations of music. And that’s really the point. Creston wasn’t an academic. He was a natural and spontaneous composer at heart. And that’s the quality Silberstein conveys in this recording. 

If you only know Creston through his greatest hits, give this album a listen. It furthered my appreciation for this American genius. It may do the same for you. 

Paul Creston: Piano Music
Three Narratives; Rhythmicon, Vols. 7-10
Myron Silberstein, piano
Toccata Classics TOCC 0674

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