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Suite for Oboe & Piano - Piston

This 1931 suite was first performed by a principal player of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ferdinand Gillet, with Jesus Sanromá as pianist. It is dedicated to Dr. Augusts Thorndike, an amateur oboist who was the father of one of Piston's friends. Commentators on the music suspect that Piston might have been writing it to suite Thorndike's tastes and skills, for it is unusually brilliantly written for the instrument, but is uncommonly Debussian and Ravelian in its style, which abounds in use of the whole-tone scale and chords of the ninth. It even quotes Debussy's "Clair de lune" and Roussel's "Suite in F." The movements of the suite have titles that would not be out of place in the music of any of these composers, such as "Nocturne," "Sarabande," "Prelude," and "Minuetto." While the piece is very lyrical, it is almost excessively pretty and hence is pretty atypical for Piston. -Joseph Stevenson,