Q. I have enjoyed the American Classics recordings with
the Seattle Symphony on the works of Alan
Hovhaness. Can you give some comments on your personal experience with
A. Although the Hovhaness recordings were not produced
by us, we had the good fortune to meet Mr. Hovhaness and interview him for a San Francisco radio program almost two
decades ago. The composer was soft spoken, gentle and somewhat shy at
first. As the radio program proceeded he opened up and spoke about his love
of Eastern modes and scales and the influences that Indian and Armenian music
had on him. He also told us that he always attempted to create music that
had a firm center, pointing out that “all music with a center was tonal” and
that “atonality was against nature”. He spoke about his love of the
polyphony found in music of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and how
nature influenced him (we touched upon “And God Created Great Whales”, and
his masterpiece, “Mysterious Mountain” (Symphony No.2)). He spoke
lovingly and with great respect of the beauty of the mountains in and around Seattle, Washington where he lived. Without a
doubt, he created a new world of original melodies and music which is both
spiritual and enlightened.
Q. What American works do you feel are in desperate need
of a modern recording? Do you plan to record any of them?
A. This is a very difficult question as there are huge gaps in
American music discography. In the initial phases of the American Music
Series, we developed a data base of over six hundred composers. For each
composer we attempted to identify important compositions which should be
considered for inclusion in the recorded series. Collating data such as this
was essential in order to identify potential recording streams. We examined
chamber music, solo instrumental, vocal works, operas and oratorios, choral
works, and, of course, orchestral compositions. A balance had to be attained
between known and unknown repertoire. Many composers had no modern
recordings and, some had not been recorded at all. The pioneering
Gamelan-influenced music of Eichheim, or perhaps the works of music teaching
giants such as Rubin Goldmark and Edward Burlingame Hill, should be
considered along with the delectable suites of Ferde Grofe, or the Impressionistic
sounds of Charles Tomlinson Griffes. Naxos’ American Classics Series is very a much a “work in progress”,
helped by active listeners who also contribute their thoughts and ideas!
Q. I would like to say that what you have so far
contributed to the Naxos American Classics series is wonderful; there is some very
interesting repertoire there. Thanks for the Ned Rorem Symphonies, the
Hovhaness, and recordings reissued from Delos. Can you say which have been your favourites?
-S. A., Australia
A. Thank you! The American Classics Series has been a dream project
– music highly deserving to be heard finally being made available at a
reasonable price and packaged in such a way that a comprehensive history of
American music may be enjoyed. To see the Rorem symphonies available at last
on one disc, to move forward and record a continuing series of suites by Grofe,
to examine the less well known American symphonists (Hadley, Fry, etc.) or
hear devoted performers play chamber music not often heard today (Cadman,
Carpenter, Foote, Loeffler, others) has been wonderful to accomplish.
Favorites? Too many to select from – and many more yet to be released.
Q. Regarding the British humorist composer/arranger,
Professor Teddy Bor: When did he produce/copyright his "Bach at the Double"?A. We did a wonderful
performance of Merry Mount and recorded it, as a live recording, and it's my
hope that Naxos will release it one of these
A. “Bach at the Double” by Professor Teddy Bor for double bass and two
violins (string trio), to the best of our knowledge, was published by Yorke
Edition in 2000.
Q. I ask this to every Classical
music lover: Who is your favorite
-S. M., USA
It is almost like asking,
“Which French wine do you prefer? Burgundy, Sauterne, Champagne
?? Depends on one’s moods. Baroque, Classical,
Romantic, Impressionist, Modern? Rameau, Bizet, Faure, Ravel, Poulenc, and?
Hmmm… too many choices!
Q. In the near future, will
you be working on any recordings of works by Wallingford Riegger, who is in my opinion
the most neglected great American composer?
-D. T., USA
A. Riegger is a critically
important American composer and will be included. Others are Ruggles, Henry Cowell,
and Roger Sessions to name just three. Stay tuned!
Q. I’ll run out of
superlatives to describe the gems (Carpenter, Hadley, Fry, Strong…) I’ve
discovered in the Amrican Classics series. Could you lift the curtain for a
peek at what’s to come?
-J. H., USA
A. Lots of goodies are on the
horizon – piano music by Ives, Foss and Joplin, chamber music by Cowell and Ives, songs by Amy Beach
and a Ballet by Harbison. You will also see more music by Barber and Rochberg,
as well as New recordings by Marin Alsop of music by Daugherty, Adams and
Q. Will you soon be working on
any CDs of the fine concert music (or opera) of legendary Hollywood masters such as Bernard
A. Yes… Bernard Hermann’s
music is very much part of the recording plan, perhaps involving the
collection of manuscripts and scores that are in the library at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Q. I absolutely love the
American Classics series, and the disc of Virgil Thomson’s symphonies is one
of my very favorite recordings. I was wondering if there are any plans to
record more of Thomson’s works. There are many wonderful works of his of
which no modern recordings currently exist at all, such as the Cello Concerto
and “The Mother of Us All” suite. I can’t recommend then highly enough and
they would make a fantastic addition to the catalogue.
A. The 1952 Columbia recording has been out of
print for some time now and these two works do indeed deserve dedicated,
modern recordings. His four piano sonatas, as well as many of the shorter
orchestral works deserve to be part of the American Classics series as well.
They are on our drawing board!