The release of Paul Creston’s Three Narratives for piano solo on Toccata Classics is the fulfilment of a quest I’ve carried around for more than 50 years. During the late 1960s I became consumed — almost addicted — to the music of Creston. As part of this all-consuming passion I studied virtually every one of his compositions (there are 120). One of the realisations that resulted from my study was that some of his most frequently performed works were among his weakest, while many of those that struck me as among his best were rarely, if ever, heard. Of this latter group of pieces, one — the Three Narratives — seemed never to have been performed, and it was not hard to understand why: they are enormously difficult for the pianist. I did get hold of a radio broadcast of Narrative No. 1, which I found irresistibly tantalising. A few years later, Creston (with whom I had become well acquainted in connection with my exhaustive study) sent me a tape from a live performance of No. 2. So I was close. But No. 3, which had been dedicated to Earl Wild (who had given the premiere of Creston’s Piano Concerto in 1950) was never performed by him, and the composer eventually removed the dedication. But there was no record of its having been publicly performed by anyone! And there was certainly no record of all three having been performed together.
Over the course of the subsequent decades, I never abandoned my search for the right pianist. During the 1990s I had the good fortune to encounter Myron Silberstein, a brilliant young fellow – then not yet twenty — who was an extraordinary pianist. His interests and mine were quite similar, and over the years that followed we produced recordings of music by Vittorio Giannini, Vincent Persichetti, Ernest Bloch and Peter Mennin, all of which were very well received. Finally, we decided to tackle the Narratives, and the results can now be heard on the new Toccata Classics album. I am very pleased with the recording, and hope that those who read this will be tempted to give Creston a try.