An all-too-rare new recording from Polyphony and Stephen Layton presents highlights from the choral repertoire by four twentieth-century American giants: Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson. Framed by Thompson’s understated favourites Alleluia and Fare Well, the programme includes Bernstein’s Missa brevis, Copland’s early set of four motets, and—of course—Barber’s inimitable Agnus Dei.
This anthology brings together representative works from the mainstream of contemporary American choral music. Charles Ives’s Psalm 90 evokes a mood reminiscent of congregational Sunday singing in New England. Copland’s In the Beginning recalls his Fanfare for the Common Man, while Lukas Foss’s Behold, I Build An House shows the stylistic influence of Copland. Vincent Persichetti’s Flower Songs reveal his deep commitment to his favourite poet E.E. Cummings, and favours the women’s voices. In Fern Hill, set for alto, chorus and orchestra, composer John Corigliano sings of the joys of youth.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat – Great American Taxi is not a jam band. It's not too hard to understand how their particular brand of open-hearted Americana has found an audience in that milieu, and maybe they stretch out while swapping solos on-stage, but there's no loosey-goosey jamming whatsoever on Reckless Habits, nor is there the amorphous, there's-a-song-in-there-somewhere approach to composition too frequently taken by jam bands.
Second in popularity only to the Ninth Symphony "From the New World," Dvorák's Twelfth String Quartet – which was dubbed the "American" Quartet by the public and media rather than the composer himself – is a work nearly synonymous with the composer's tenure in the United States. These were not the only two works inspired by his cross-sea voyage, however. The Thirteenth String Quartet in G major, Op. 106, though not imbued with the same folkloric characteristics, also came about following the composer's return from the States. The popularity of the "American" Quartet has resulted in a work that is arguably overplayed, making it difficult for new ensembles to find anything new or unique to say about it.
All six of the iconic Johnny Cash American Recordings LP's are now available in their entirety in one box for the first time. Produced by legendary producer Rick Rubin these 6 180gsm LP's are housed in a beautiful 12x12 cloth covered box.
Albums included are: American Recordings (1994), Unchained (1996), American III: Solitary Man (2000), American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002), American V: A Hundred Highways (2006), American IV: Ain't No Grave (2010).
When contemplating the baroque period in French music in connection with the flute, it would probably be names such as Hotteterre, Blavet or Mondonville which would first come to mind. Joseph Bodin de Boismortier was something of a mass-market composer whose many works served as much to earn his keep as to supply the amateur music market with fairly playable pieces. But his six sonatas (opus 91), although in many ways conventional, do require some very good playing from both performers and are distinguished by having the harpsichord part fully notated.