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Disc reviews

Dvořák and America

Disc review published on September 01, 2014 in ClassicalCDReview.com

In reference to Dvořák and America

Excellent performances throughout, and text is provided for Hiawatha. This is a fascinating, unusual disk worthy of investigation.

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Dvorak und Amerika

Disc review published on July 23, 2014 in Pizzicato in German

In reference to Dvořák and America

The main piece of this program is the Hiawatha Melodrama, a concert work for narrator and orchestra showing the relation between Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha, which Dvorak said had inspired him in the symphony. This work and some other compositions honor the relation between the Czech composer and American music and culture.

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(++++) Combos

Disc review published on July 03, 2014 in Infodad.com

In reference to Dvořák and America

This compendium of music and words provides a genuinely interesting and difficult-to-describe musical experience that provides considerable insight into the ways in which America influenced Dvořák and the way the great Czech composer returned the favor.

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Horowitz And Beckerman Offer A Fresh Look At Dvorák

Disc review published on July 01, 2014 in ClassicToday.com

In reference to Dvořák and America

This is one of those rare “concept albums” where the concept actually works. It offers a truly fresh and interesting perspective on Dvorák’s American period, while still assembling a program that makes for enjoyable listening on its own. Few of us bother to read Longfellow’s poem anymore, but hearing it wedded to Dvorák’s music really does create a powerful and, somehow, nostalgic atmosphere of perhaps a more innocent age. I found it quite moving, and the rest of the performances very enjoyable. You will too.

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Discs: A BPO Premiere is extended for a recording premiere by another orchestra

Disc review published on June 26, 2014 in The Buffalo News

In reference to Dvořák and America

The performances are unfailingly excellent, with Kevin Deas (the only holdover from the 2012 Buffalo concert) deserves special mention for his mellifluous yet passionate narration of the Hiawatha texts, which are provided in the liner notes. This is not background music, and deserves your full attention, including reading Horowitz’s fluent but comprehensive program notes.

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Montsalvatge: Folia Daliniana, Madrigal Sobre un Tema Popular, Cinco Invocaciones al Crucificado

Disc review published on June 01, 2014 in Opera News

In reference to Xavier Montsalvatge: Madrigal sobre un tema popular / 5 Invocaciones al Crucificado / Folia daliniana

This disc won me over in its first twenty seconds—the skittering, playfully dissonant opening passage of Xavier Montsalvatge’s Folia Daliniana for four solo winds, strings, and percussion.

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Xavier Montsalvatge (1912–2002)

Disc review published on June 01, 2014 in MusicWeb International

In reference to Xavier Montsalvatge: Madrigal sobre un tema popular / 5 Invocaciones al Crucificado / Folia daliniana

Technically the recording is spotless and Sato Moughalian’s informative liner notes, from which I have culled most of the background information in the review, are exemplary. Those whose only acquaintance with Montsalvatge’s music so far has been the Cinco canciones negras should grab the opportunity to expand their knowledge by acquiring the present disc.

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Classical Playlist: Andrew Parrott, Jeroen Van Veen, Ildar Abdrazakov and More

Disc review published on February 05, 2014 in The New York Times

In reference to Xavier Montsalvatge: Madrigal sobre un tema popular / 5 Invocaciones al Crucificado / Folia daliniana

The Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvatge is no household name, but you couldn’t ask for a better introduction to his elegant, refined and piquant oeuvre than this vibrant collection by New York City’s Perspectives Ensemble. A well-balanced selection of pieces composed from 1969 to 1995, the disc is further abetted by the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke’s ravishing voice and the violinist Tim Fain’s bravura solo work.

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Xavier Montsalvatge, Madrigal, and Other Works, Perspectives Ensemble, Soloists

Disc review published on January 14, 2014 in Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

In reference to Xavier Montsalvatge: Madrigal sobre un tema popular / 5 Invocaciones al Crucificado / Folia daliniana

The Perspectives Ensemble under conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez brings us lovely performances that exemplify Montsalvatge in various stylistic guises, who like Stravinsky went through a number of transformations while still remaining recognizably himself.

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(++++) Making discoveries

Disc review published on January 02, 2014 in Infodad.com

In reference to Xavier Montsalvatge: Madrigal sobre un tema popular / 5 Invocaciones al Crucificado / Folia daliniana

Montsalvatge’s more-substantial works reach beyond ethnicity to communicate with cross-cultural genuineness that is highly effective – especially so in his major song cycles, such as Cinco invocaciones al Crucificado (1969), sung with intense feeling on Naxos’ new CD by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and conducted with sure-handed skill by Angel Gil-Ordóñez, one of the foremost exponents of modern small-ensemble works, both choral and instrumental.

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El Abuelo – Great Spanish Films Since 1950

Disc review published on April 01, 2013 in Great Spanish Films Since 1950

In reference to El Abuelo

Nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign FIlm in 1999, El Abuelo is a warm and wonderful film, set in the lush northern Spanish provinces on a beautiful seaside country estate. Beautifully filmed in color and scope, the film owes much to photographer Rául Pérez and composer Manuel Balboa, with the exquisite music complementing the sumptuous visuals.

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Review: The City by Lewis Mumford; Ralph Steiner and Willard von Dyke; Aaron Copland

Disc review published on December 01, 2011 in American Music

In reference to Aaron Copland: The City (DVD)

The newly recorded soundtrack is largely excellent, with the PostClassical En­semble exemplifying the understated, light, and precise style of playing needed for Copland’s music. The striking saxophone solos are particularly evocative and compare very favorably to their counterparts on the original recording. (Such comparisons are easily made, since the DVD also includes the entire film with the original soundtrack as a bonus feature.)

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Images et sons au service de Roosevelt

Disc review published on January 03, 2011 in Le Monde (France) in French

In reference to Aaron Copland: The City (DVD)

The reissue of these documentaries, accompanied by a superb restoration of the black and white image, is accompanied by a new recording of texts and scores (also available on two separate CDs). Nostalgics can watch the original version of the films and their soundtrack. Exciting discussions complete this work and remind us of the time of hope and social progress that were the Roosevelt years.

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Aaron Copland's score for The City

Disc review published on April 20, 2010 in Opera Today

In reference to Aaron Copland: The City (DVD)

This disc neatly captures a central dichotomy of the career of composer Aaron Copland. Raised in New York City, Copland gained his greatest successes with scores that extol a rural, bucolic vision of American life. Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, Billy the Kid — compositions that present an idealized, perhaps even sentimentalized portrayal of a boisterous, green America, while containing enough musical sophistication and imagination to remain perpetually fresh. One of the composer’s early forays into film composition came when he was asked to score a 45 minute documentary called The City, which is in effect an advertisement for Lewis Mumford’s planned community, Greenbelt. Before the filmmakers (Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke) turn their film over to a rapturous hymn to Greenbelt, they set the stage by contrasting the virtues of country living with the veritable hell of city life, circa 1939 — the very city life that produced Aaron Copland.

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The City

Disc review published on March 01, 2010 in Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association

In reference to Aaron Copland: The City (DVD)

Copland’s score features contrasting musical styles to support the on-screen images and rhetoric. Idyllic rural and suburban life is represented by pastoral, consonant music, while urban conditions are shown to dissonant, rhythmically jarring portions of the score. Additionally, there is often a strong physical correlation between specific images and musical figures, such as the clarinet triplet passage that plays while the viewer is shown a water wheel. The new recording of the score surpasses the original in many respects. There is greater dynamic range, more detail of orchestral color, and in general, the score works better as abstract music in the hands of the PostClassical Ensemble.

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The City. El film documental clásico de 1939 con una nueva banda sonora de la partitura de Aaron Copland

Disc review published on September 01, 2009 in Sherzo in Spanish

In reference to Aaron Copland: The City (DVD)

This DVD allows us to see that same film, but now with a soundtrack that sounds like one would expect in a modern production, with the quality that corresponds to those images, of disturbing beauty –evocative images of a world that no longer exists, although in reality it was not quite so. Ángel Gil-Ordóñez and the PostClassical Ensemble give artistic and sonorous quality to this little-known score of Copland the the cinematographer, a wide-ranging score, an authentic masterpiece of the specialty, which is better to hear with the images for which it was composed.

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Classical Releases: 'The City,' Mahler and Beethoven With Washington Roots

Disc review published on July 12, 2009 in The Washington Post

In reference to Aaron Copland: The City (DVD)

Following their remastering of Pare Lorentz’s earlier The Plow That Broke the Plains and The River, with music by Virgil Thomson –films that influenced The City considerably– the PostClassical Ensemble has given this Copland score its first modern recording (conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez) and issued it on a bountiful DVD that includes a version of the film with the original soundtrack, a discussion between Joseph Horowitz and the filmmaker George Stoney, and a documentary about Greenbelt.

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Manuel Balboa: Música Cinematográfica

Disc review published on March 22, 2009 in Score Magacine in Spanish

In reference to Film Music by Manuel Balboa

In the sad list of musicians who had their promising film career interrupted due to their premature death, we must include Manuel Balboa, a Galician composer who delivered, despite everything, a bouquet of exquisite works of great musical quality –and which in the end hurts more, a subtle but elegant voice of his own, something that is so eagerly needed for film music in general.

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Música cinematográfica de Manuel Balboa

Disc review published on July 07, 2008 in Scores de Cine in Spanish

In reference to Film Music by Manuel Balboa

Under the direction of Ángel Gil-Ordóñez, the Galicia Symphony Orchestra interpreted with enviable ease the four scores of Balboa, characterized by its elegant classicism far removed from Hollywood pomposity.

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The Plow That Broke The Plains and The River / Thomson

Disc review published on March 15, 2007 in Film Music: A Neglected Art

In reference to Virgil Thomson: The Plow That Broke The Plains • The River (CD and DVD)

If you have never heard the scores before and you have heard Copland you will be surprised at the similiarity of the music style. If you haven’t heard either composer this is at least one way to introduce yourself to Thomson with two of his better works and always remember the good value that Naxos has to offer. Highly recommended. Golden Scores Rating is ****.

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