America: Brilliant & Bold (8CD)

ABC Classics & Jazz
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Various Artists

Discover two centuries of brilliant and bold American classical music – music with the majesty to define a nation, the brilliance to change the way we see the world, and the energy to embrace the variety and vastness of the land from which it springs.

This collection showcases the most popular masterworks and hidden treasures from broad, rich and exciting musical heritage. 

Released to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great composer, conductor and educator Leonard Bernstein, this box set accompanies ABC Classic FM’s focus on American music over the 2018 Easter weekend.

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Disc 1:                                                       

1 COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man

2-9 COPLAND Eight Songs of Emily Dickinson

10 COPLAND Rodeo: Corral Nocturne

11 TRAD arr. COPLAND Simple Gifts

12 TRAD arr. COPLAND I Bought Me a Cat

13 TRAD arr. COPLAND Long Time Ago

14 TRAD arr. COPLAND At the River

15 TRAD arr. COPLAND Ching-A-Ring Chaw

16 COPLAND The Cat and the Mouse

17-24 COPLAND Appalachian Spring

Disc 2:                                                      

1 BARBER Adagio for Strings

2-4 BARBER Violin Concerto

5 BARBER Hermit Songs: St Ita’s Vision

6 BARBER Sure on this Shining Night

7 BARBER Dover Beach

8 BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915

9 BARBER Agnus Dei

Disc 3:                                                       

1-3 IVES Three Places in New England

4 IVES Down East

5 IVES Serenity

6 IVES The Unanswered Question

7 CRUMB Sonata for Solo Cello: Toccata

8 CARTER A Fantasy about Purcell’s ‘Fantasia upon One Note’

9 CARTER Scrivo in vento

10 CORIGLIANO Violin Sonata: Andantino

11 VARÈSE Amériques

Disc 4:                                                     

1 BERNSTEIN Candide: Overture

2 BERNSTEIN Candide: Glitter and Be Gay

3 BERNSTEIN West Side Story: Somewhere

4-6 GERSHWIN Three Preludes

7 GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue

8 GERSHWIN An American in Paris

9 GERSHWIN Porgy and Bess: Jazzbo Brown Blues

10 GERSHWIN Porgy and Bess: Summertime

11 BERNSTEIN West Side Story: Tonight

Disc 5:                                                      

1-4 CAGE Amores

5 CAGE In a Landscape

6 CAGE 4’33”First movement

7 REICH Clapping Music

8-10 REICH Different Trains

11 YOUNG Composition 1960 #7

12 CAGE c Ȼomposed Improvisation

13 ADAMS Short Ride in a Fast Machine 

Disc 6:                                                       

1 GLASS Opening

2 GLASS Metamorphosis No. 4

3 GLASS Mad Rush

4 GLASS Wichita Vortex Sutra

5-10 GLASS Etudes for Solo Piano: Selections

Disc 7:                                                      

1 SOUSA The Washington Post

2 ANDERSON The Typewriter

3 ANDERSON The Waltzing Cat

4 SOUSA Stars and Stripes Forever

5 ANDERSON Sleigh Ride

6 ANDERSON Chicken Reel

7 SOUSA Liberty Bell March

8 NANCARROW Study for Player Piano No. 6

9-14 WILDER Effie the Elephant

15 MACDOWELL Forest IdyllsDaydreams

16 HOVHANESS Mystic Flute

17 MENOTTI Toccata on a Theme from ‘The Old Maid and the Thief’

18 GOTTSCHALK Souvenir de Porto Rico

19 MORTON Frog-i-More Rag

20 BOLCOM Graceful Ghost

21 JOPLIN Maple Leaf Rag

22 MORTON Fingerbreaker

23 JOPLIN The Entertainer

Disc 8:                                                       

1 WILLIAMS Star Wars: Main Theme

2 WILLIAMS E.T.: Theme

3-5 WILLIAMS Escapades

6 HERRMANN Psycho: The Murder

7-10 PISTON Clarinet Concerto

11 LAURIDSEN O magnum mysterium

12 WHITACRE Lux aurumque

13 GROFÉ Grand Canyon Suite: Sunrise

14 WILLIAMS Superman: March

15 WILLIAMS Raiders of the Lost Ark: March

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The Australian-American alliance is as strong as ever.



The cover of this ABC box set of eight discs shows an explosive surge of Americana - a Halloween pumpkin, a road sign for Route 66, a Cadillac and so on - which is fun but misrepresents the content. There is serious music aplenty inside. Of course, the popular hits of American concert music are here: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Copland's Appalachian Spring, some excerpts from Bernstein's West Side Story - but alongside that you find rarer fare such as Ameriques by Edgard Varése; the song cycles Dover Beach and Knoxville Summer of 1915 by Samuel Barber; Copland's Eight Songs by Emily Dickinson and Walter Piston's Clarinet Concerto (the only recording I have ever seen of it). The set is comprised of two volumes of 4 discs each, the second group devoted mostly to later composers with substantial works by John Cage, Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

The other point of interest is that, with few exceptions, these are performances by Australian artists. I had not realised how much American music we had recorded over the years. Many stand comparison with the homegrown versions. Simon Tedeschi is represented in the Gershwin Preludes for Piano, as well as his signature Rhapsody in Blue (a live recording with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under Benjamin Northey); Sally Whitwell's acclaimed set of the Etudes and other solo piano works of Philip Glass are here; Northey again, this time in Melbourne, conducts the rare original arrangement for thirteen instruments of Copland's Suite from Appalachian Spring (setting perfect tempos throughout); Markus Stenz conducts the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a live performance of Three Places in New England by Charles Ives; Amy Dickson plays a Saxophone Concerto (Escapades) by the film composer John Williams, and there are first class renditions of Copland's Emily Dickinson Songs and 'Glitter and be Gay' from Bernstein's Candide by soprano Emma Matthews. It's a shame they couldn't find an Australian performance of Barber's Knoxville Summer of 1915 but Renée Fleming is not a bad consolation prize.