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Track Listing:

Archangel Concerto For Piano And Orchestra / Book One
Book Two
Perlimplinito - Music Of The City
Music Of Wealth And Deceit
Music Of The River
Music Of Marriage And Infidelity
Roller Coaster

Michael Shapiro :


Music of Michael Shapiro - Performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales - Steven Beck - Piano
Conducted by the composer

Album includes: 

Archangel Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Perlimplinito, Opera Sweet, A Lace Paper Valentine for Orchestra,
Roller Coaster for Orchestra

Michael Shapiro breathes new life into the famous Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony by Victorian French composer Charles-Marie Widor with this arrangement for full orchestra named Widorama! played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by the composer. Shapiro's arrangement of the famous Toccata, frequently used by organists for weddings and church services, brings the work into the concert hall in highly dramatic fashion.

Michael Shapiro's early encounters with conductor Leopold Stokowski provided inspiration to arrange Widor's piece for full orchestra. Stokowski's epic arrangements of Bach for the Philadelphia Orchestra transformed Baroque music into something new and indeed contemporary.  Shapiro loves Stokowski's organ-like and organ-ic orchestrations which elicit huge reverberations. 

So, it came to Shapiro in the middle of the night he had heard the Widor piece years before in Radio City Music Hall played by a virtuoso organist on one of those giant Wurlitzer organs thrusting out of the right side of the hall. Shapiro imagined the Widor work merged with a huge Art Deco movie screen at Rockefeller Center, the wide 1950s visual display of Cinerama melding into grand church music. Shapiro remembered Widor's Toccata from his Fifth Symphony for organ was perfect in its way, building from simple cells alternating between small then wider patterns and progressing harmonically down unexpected paths to a satisfying resolution. Of course, the organ piece is sufficient unto itself, just like the Bach pieces Stokowski featured. But the presentation by the orchestra adds a new dimension.

When orchestrating the Widor piece, Shapiro studied the registrations the composer chose to set his music and how his patterns might fit instruments playing together and apart. Unlike Stokowski who often arranged for an enlarged Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1920s, Shapiro decided upon a slightly leaner approach. His inner ear told him reproducing organ sound was insufficient. Stokowski's example was to make orchestral pieces from Bach and other Baroque masters and not just replicate the musical air of a cathedral (which he also accomplished). Rather, Shapiro studied Widor's notes, then thought about which instruments could play what lines. This was partially a game of registers, low, medium, or high. Shapiro thought in addition how certain instruments sounded together, and when it right to add some in the mix and drop others. Things could get heavy and immense but had to resound brightly with clarity. He wanted the paths ahead to be clear, no journeys through dense fog. Yes, it was Charles-Marie Widor's music filtered through Shapiro's contemporary sensibility. Widorama! became Shapiro's new instrumental piece out of Widor's, one plus one hopefully equaling the infinite.

Jerry Junkin brilliantly conducted the wind ensemble version of the piece with a combined large group of his Dallas Winds and the GDYO Wind Symphony at Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. Recently Michael Shapiro conducted the work with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in this recording.

Widorama! is a grand presentation of Victorian organ work transformed into concert music.


‘Archangel Concerto for Piano and Orchestra' features pianist Steven Beck (New York Philharmonic, Brooklyn Knights). The Concerto is probably the most programmatic piece of music Michael Shapiro has ever written.  Archangel is in two books or movements. Book One depicts the war between the forces of good and evil set forth in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Book Two portrays Adam and Eve (and the Serpent) in Eden and their being cast out into the world we all live.  Archangel is therefore about the most basic and terrifying truth, the fight between good and evil raging to this day.

‘Perlimplinito, Opera Sweet, A Lace Paper Valentine for Orchestra' contains the entr'acte music from Shapiro's first opera, based on the play by Federico Garcia Lorca. The fantastical story of an old man who falls tragically in love with a beautiful young woman who cuckolds him on their wedding night with the five races of the earth, the music of Perlimplinito is emotional, visceral, and beautifully lyrical. A perfect piece for Valentine's Day!

‘Roller Coaster for Orchestra,' is a five-minute wild ride. Premiered at the Cabrillo Festival in California by conductor Marin Alsop, the piece is a musical representation of the Coney Island (Brooklyn NY) Cyclone amusement park ride and a metaphor for life's ups and downs. 

An ideal work for a hot Summer day.