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The Naxos American Classics Series boasts a unique catalogue of both well-known and rarely recorded masterpieces, in addition to world première recordings of works by living composers. This landmark series continues to grow with the regular addition of significant new releases, including four recordings in the past two months alone, which we feature here alongside a selection of highly acclaimed previous releases in the series.

“The Nashville Symphony’s partnership with Richard Danielpour has produced a series of recordings that showcase his unique ability to bring classic texts to life. Songs of Solitude and War Songs represent Richard at his very best – an honest examination of the brutality of war and the crushing toll it takes on all humanity, themes that are as true today as ever – all stunningly voiced by Thomas Hampson, the greatest baritone of our time.”

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

DANIELPOUR, R.: Songs of Solitude / War Songs / Toward the Splendid City
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Richard DANIELPOUR (b. 1956)
Songs of Solitude* • War Songs*
Toward the Splendid City

Thomas Hampson, Baritone*
Nashville Symphony
Giancarlo Guerrero


Acclaimed as one of America’s leading contemporary composers, Richard Danielpour wrote Songs of Solitude as a response to the events of 9/11. Drawing on the poems of W.B. Yeats, the work enshrines a sense of economy and sparseness, formed of a set of six powerful orchestral songs. The motivating force for War Songs was a series of photographs of the young men and women killed in the Iraq War. The song cycle, with its texts by Walt Whitman, was written for the Nashville Symphony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Toward the Splendid City is a portrait of New York City driven by Danielpour’s lovehate relationship with his hometown.

Listen to an extract from War Songs:
No. 3 Reconciliation

“The human voice is among our most personal forms of expression. Bringing a work like Zabur not just to life, but to concert halls and recordings … that’s the power of the voice magnified many times over. We commissioned Zabur by composer Mohammed Fairouz following 3 years of city-wide conversations with faith communities, artists, musicians, educators and citizens of Indianapolis, Indiana. The common thread from those conversations was a need for a composition speaking not of our differences, but to our shared values, and particularly that of peace.”

Eric Stark, conductor

FAIROUZ, M.: Zabur
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Mohammed FAIROUZ (b. 1985)
Libretto by Najla Said

Dann Coakwell, Tenor
Michael Kelly, Baritone
Indianapolis Children’s Choir
Indianapolis Symphonic Choir
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Eric Stark

Hailed by The New York Times as ‘an important new artistic voice’ and by Gramophone as ‘a post-millennial Schubert,’ Mohammed Fairouz is one of the most significant composers of vocal music of our time. His oratorio Zabur (Arabic for ‘psalms’) is a kind of war requiem documenting a conflict’s effects on human beings, most notably children. Though cast in a contemporary setting, in a city under siege, Fairouz evokes a timeless world, acknowledging tragedy while asserting an eternal, luminous hope that transcends the disastrous present.

Listen to an excerpt from Zabur, Part II:
Yes, children, this is the power of art

Mohammed Fairouz
Mohammed Fairouz
Eric Stark
Eric Stark
Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly

“Two very different sides of Aaron Copland are on display with this release. For that matter, one could say that two different sides of America are as well. Appalachian Spring, well known and loved ever since its première, takes us to a simple time, delving into the Shaker tradition. Copland would go on to distill the work into a popular suite, one that is part of the standard repertoire. This version restores most of the remaining music that was excised for the suite.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! is a product of the composer’s early years. The story is a bit silly, and I am not sure how dancers in a courtroom would actually look. However, it is certainly easy to spot where Copland is headed, and I found myself completely enthralled with this unusual work. There are sound effects—gavel banging and gun shots—as well as jazz-inflected passages. Some of the music found its way into later works, but it is wonderful to hear the language adopted by the composer at the start of his soon-to-be-burgeoning career.”

Leonard Slatkin, conductor

COPLAND, A.: Appalachian Spring / Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
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Aaron COPLAND (1900–1990)
Appalachian Spring (Complete Ballet)
Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin

Aaron Copland wrote his rarely heard ballet Hear Ye! Hear Ye! for Ruth Page, the dancer and choreographer who was to become the Grande Dame of American ballet. Its scenario is a murder in a nightclub and the ensuing trial in a Chicago courtroom. Copland infused the score with the spirit of his jazz-influenced pieces, controversially distorting part of the National Anthem, and infiltrating music from some of his earlier works. In complete contrast, Appalachian Spring is his most famous work, a true American masterpiece founded on transfigured dance tunes and song melodies. This is volume two of the Complete Ballet series. Volume One is on 8.559758.

Listen to an extract from Hear ye! Hear ye!:
Scene 6: The Chorus Girls' First Dance

“With a sound that is distinctly and uniquely American, Michael Daugherty’s work has always been an outstanding showcase for our orchestra. As only he can, Michael pays tribute here to three national icons – writer Ernest Hemingway, painter Grant Wood and media mogul William Randolph Hearst – displaying the same virtuosity and accessibility that have earned him a GRAMMY® award and a reputation as one of our country’s most important composers.”

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

DAUGHERTY, M.: Tales of Hemingway / American Gothic / Once Upon A Castle
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Michael DAUGHERTY (b. 1954)
Tales of Hemingway1
American Gothic
Once Upon a Castle2

Zuill Bailey, Cello1
Paul Jacobs, Organ2
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero

GRAMMY® Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty creates colourful musical portraits in this recording, featuring larger-than-life personalities drawn from 20th-century American culture. Tales of Hemingway is a dramatic cello concerto, evoking the turbulent life, adventures, and literature of author Ernest Hemingway. American Gothic is a dynamic concerto for orchestra, reflecting on the creative world of Iowa artist Grant Wood. Once Upon a Castle is a virtuosic sinfonia concertante for organ and orchestra, inspired by the rich history of the Hearst Castle, built high upon the California Pacific coast by billionaire Randolph Hearst, the subject of Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane. Under the baton of Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony is joined by Zuill Bailey, one of the leading cellists of his generation, and GRAMMY® Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs.

Listen to an extract from American Gothic:
III. Pitchfork

Listen to Raymond Bisha's podcast
about this release

Other acclaimed releases in the Naxos American Classics Series
Metropolis Symphony / Deus ex Machina

T. Wilson, Nashville Symphony, Guerrero

“All of these are accessible and fun works which should have a wide appeal, and they are superbly performed and recorded.”
Audiophile Audition ★★★★★
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Made in America /
Tambor /
Concerto for Orchestra

Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Slatkin

“Naxos’ first-rate engineering mirrors the music’s excitement and immediacy. Enthusiastically recommended!”
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“Under [Slatkin’s] baton the five works, magnificently played by the Detroit Symphony, become musical tableaux with a stunning visual force.”
Pizzicato ★★★★★
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Songs (No Orpheus)

Lindsey, Duffy, Burchett

“Fairouz has a genuine melodic gift, which he exploits without embarrassment.”
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“Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are commendably involved in Danielpour’s emotional outpourings.”
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“This album is a compelling portrait of an exceptional young talent ideally served by the best interpreters.”
Musical Toronto
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Toward a Season of Peace

Plitmann, Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony, St. Clair
“This is music of dark beauty, hushed mystery, sweeping gestures, deeply moving elegies and awesome climaxes”
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“Superb performances of Paulus’s orchestral music from Giancarlo Guerrero and his Nashville Symphony.”
Expedition Audio
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Songs of Innocence and of Experience

University of Michigan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, University of Michigan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, Slatkin

“Leonard Slatkin conducts a gripping live performance of this ambitious masterpiece”
The New York Times
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