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From Gershwin to Glass, Copland to Corigliano, Naxos’ acclaimed American Classics series offers diverse and exciting works with one thing in common: the highest quality in sound and performance.

Explore the American soundscape through this exciting array of new albums from the series, featuring outstanding artists such as JoAnn Falletta, Leonard Slatkin and Evelyn Glennie. Be sure to also check out other critically acclaimed past releases from the vast catalogue.

Naxos 8.573205
GLASS, P.: Concerto Fantasy for 2 Timpanists and Orchestra (arr. M. Lortz) / FAIROUZ, M.: Symphony No. 4
University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, Popiel

Philip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, composed in 2000 and transcribed for wind ensemble by Mark Lortz in 2004, is a significant addition to the repertoire of large-scale works for timpani. The work is rhythmically galvanizing, sonically alluring, and features virtuoso cadenzas for both soloists. Symphony No 4 ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’ is Mohammed Fairouz’s first major work for wind ensemble, and its inspiration is the provocative comic book by Art Spiegelman, written shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Spiegelman himself has commented: “I’m moved by [this] scary, somber, and seriously silly symphony…I’m honored that the composer found an echo in my work that allowed him to strike a responsive chord and express his own complex responses to post 9/11 America. He emerges from the rubble with a very tony piece of high-brow cartoon music.”

Naxos 8.559765
MCTEE, C.: Symphony No. 1 / Circuits / Einstein's Dream / Double Play
Detroit Symphony, Slatkin

Cindy McTee’s compositions embody the musical and cultural energy of modern-day America. Circuits, ‘a boisterously jazzy sprint’ (Detroit Free Press), is followed by Symphony No. 1, a smartly assembled work whose diverse ideas ‘seemed to unfold naturally within an orchestral fabric that used the ensemble’s full coloristic range’ (The New York Times). The use of computer music in Einstein’s Dream lends sonic complexity to a piece that celebrates the scientist’s work on quantum theory. Double Play, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, ‘hums with craftsmanship and a catholic array of influences across several centuries’ (The Washington Post).

Naxos 8.559738
SIERRA, R.: Sinfonía No. 4 / Fandangos / Carnaval
Nashville Symphony, Guerrero

Over the last decade the music of the Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra has become internationally admired, and this has led to prestigious commissions and performances around the world. Fandangos was heard at the BBC Proms in London and employs a harpsichord work attributed to Antonio Soler as a departure for a richly inventive orchestral fantasy. The dramatic Sinfonía No. 4 was described by ArtsNowNashville as ‘a textbook example of how this composer breathes new life into old forms. The piece is basically a classic Germanic symphony imbued with Spanish sensibilities and reinvigorated with new harmonies and rhythms.’ Robert Schumann is subtly evoked in Carnaval, five character pieces that explore mythical creatures, both menacing and serene.

Naxos 8.559761
ROREM, N.: Piano Album I / 6 Friends
C. Enger

Ned Rorem is one of America’s most distinguished composers. He is an acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winner who has been hailed by Time magazine as “the world’s best composer of art songs.” Of his own work he has said, “I conceive all music vocally…it is always the singer within me crying to get out.” This recording features his complete Piano Album I, a series of small-scale but significant piano compositions dating from 1978 to 2001. These and the set Six Friends were largely written as gifts to friends and colleagues, forming musical sketch books which are filled with miniature masterpieces. They have echoes in Rorem’s larger works, and stand in their own right as beautiful gems which create an atmosphere of tranquility and heartfelt tenderness.

Naxos 8.559726
CAGE, J.: Works for 2 Keyboards, Vol. 1
Pestova, Meyer

John Cage’s remarkable magnum opus A Book of Music for two prepared pianos is brought together here with his complete works for toy piano. Intricately structured according to Cage’s ideas about Mozart, A Book of Music is an eloquent and virtuoso mosaic of driving and sometimes frenetic rhythms, the exotic sounds of the ‘prepared’ piano strings transporting the listener into worlds of the strangest imagining. The Suite for Toy Piano is a modest miracle of precise expression and the first ever serious concert music written for this instrument, while Music for Amplified Toy Pianos is composed using chance elements, generating a spacious field of sound filled with surprise.

Naxos 8.559757
CORIGLIANO, J.: Conjurer / Vocalise
Glennie, Plitmann, Albany Symphony, Miller

Leading American composer John Corigliano had reservations about writing a percussion concerto, but the challenge fascinated him. The result is Conjurer, a concerto for percussion like no other, in which ‘wood, metal and skin’ are utilised in such a way that the soloist, Dame Evelyn Glennie—the world’s greatest percussion virtuoso—‘conjures’ the musical material from these three choirs, and the orchestra then shares and develops the themes. Vocalise employs electronics in a way that serves to heighten the expressive beauty of the writing, gradually leading the listener from a purely acoustic experience to one that becomes suffused by amplification and electronics.

Naxos 8.573146
RUTTER, J.: Suite Antique / GLASS, P. / FRANCAIX, J.: Harpsichord Concertos
Lewis, West Side Chamber Orchestra, Mallon

Attracted by a delightful fusion of early music sonorities with modern expressiveness, the three composers in this amazingly rich and varied programme build on the magnificent harpsichord concerto legacy of J.S. Bach. John Rutter’s beautiful Suite Antique is full of rich and haunting themes, with a significant solo flute part and a jazzy Waltz which is as much Brubeck as Bach. Philip Glass delivers an exciting experience of virtuoso instrumental blending and solo expressiveness, and with typical wit and elegance. Jean Françaix’s Concerto is terrific fun throughout.

Naxos 8.559747
PAINE, J.K.: As You Like it Overture / The Tempest / Symphony No. 1
Ulster Orchestra, Falletta

John Knowles Paine was one of the ‘Boston Six’, a group of important American composers active in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. His German training equipped him with considerable formal skill and he soon rose to become a pioneer of the symphonic tradition in America. Paine’s Symphony No. 1 received a tremendous reception at its première on account of its attractive themes, skilful orchestration and accomplished design. The Overture As You Like It is notable for its graceful and tuneful themes, whereas Shakespeare’s Tempest is a more adventurous and powerful Lisztian tone poem.

Naxos 8.559707
DANIELPOUR, R.: Darkness in the Ancient Valley / Lacrimae Beati / A Woman's Life
Plitmann, Brown, Nashville Symphony, Guerrero

Award-winning composer Richard Danielpour has been championed by musicians ranging from Leonard Bernstein to the Emerson String Quartet. Lacrimae Beati owes its origin to Mozart’s Requiem and was conceived after a perilous flight in 2002. Darkness in the Ancient Valley, a symphony in five movements inspired by recent events in Iran, utilises a wide range of Persian folk-melodies and Sufi rhythms. A Woman’s Life is a cycle of poems by Maya Angelou which charts a moving trajectory from childhood to old age.



More Critically Acclaimed Releases from the American Classics Series



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8.559240

8.559671
8.559635
8.554568

8.559149
8.559328
8.559677



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7:00:34 PM, 29 July 2014
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