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American Masters, Part II

The second in a multi-week series celebrating American composers who began working in the first half of the 20th century.

 
Program 1

Bill starts the week with an American Impressionist, Charles T. Griffes, who admired Ravel, Debussy, Scriabin and others fin du siecle composers. This show features the mysterious Poem for Flute and Orchestra, "The White Peacock" and "Meeres Stille" by this early 20th century American composer who died of the Spanish flu at the young age of 35.

The second "American Master" featured in this hour is Wallingford Riegger was a member of the first graduating class from Juilliard in 1907. Riegger's "Dance Rhythms" shows parallels with the work of Aaron Copland.

The show ends with William Grant Still's Suite for Violin and Piano (whose work will be explored in more detail in program 2).

 

Charles T. Griffes: Poem For Flute & Orchestra
Buffalo Philharmonic/Falletta; Carol Wincenc, fl.
Naxos 8.559164
10:05
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Griffes: The White Peacock
Buffalo Philharmonic/Falletta
Naxos 8.559164
5:45
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Griffes: “Meeres Stille”
Thomas Hampson, bar.; Armen Guzelimian, p.
Teldec 72168
2:03
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Wallingford Riegger: Dance Rhythms, Op. 58a
Eastman Rochester Philharmonic/Hanson
CRI 572
7:32
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Riegger: Wind Quintet
Dunkel, fl.; Taylor, ob.; Blackwell, cl.; Morelli, bsn.; Rose, hn.
New World 80285
6:46
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William Grant Still: Suite for Violin and Piano
I. African Dancer
II. Mother and Child
III. Gamin

Clifford Panton, v. Jason Alfred, p.
Centaur Records 2750
14:50
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Still: Summerland fr. Three Visions (excerpt)
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, v.; Craig Ketter, p.
MSR 1278
1:39
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Program 2

Opening with an excerpt from 'bad boy' George Antheil's Jazz Symphony (commissioned by George Whiteman in 1925, a year after he'd commissioned Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue") the program moves on to William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony.

Bill then introduces Chicago born Ernst Bacon's musical tribute to one of America's great photographers, "Remembering Ansel Adams" and in the second half of the hour explores the unconventional work of Harry Partch (who grew up in New Mexico) with its mix of American landscapes, hitchhiking, railroads, and fascination with new tonal structures and musical forms of other eras and places (ranging from East Asia to ancient Greece).

Bill invokes William Carlos Williams' poetry in describing Harry Partch: "The pure products of America go crazy... / Devil-may-car-men who have taken to railroading out a sheer lust of adventure." The show also features three short works for children by French-born Louise Talma.

George Antheil: A Jazz Symphony
Ensemble Modern
RCA 68066
6:35
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William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony, II & III
Cincinnati Philharmonia/Jindong Cai
Centaur 2331
8:27
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Ernst Bacon: Remembering Ansel Adams
Warsaw Philharmonic/Swoboda; Richard Stoltzman, cl.
CRI 779
14:31
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Harry Partch: Study on Olympos' Pentatonic fr. Two Studies
on Ancient Greek Scales

John Schneider, guitar; Amy Shulman, harp
Bridge 9041
1:14
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Partch: 8 Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at
Barstow, California
II. Gentlemen
III. Considered Pretty
IV. A Very Good Idea

John Schneider, baritone & adapted guitar
Bridge 9041
2:27
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Partch: Ulysses At The Edge Of The World
Gate 5 Ensemble
New World 80621
6:41
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Louise Talma: Quiet Time, A Heavy Load & Jumping High fr.
Soundshots

Sahan Arzruni, p.
New World 80590
3:22
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Partch: Study on Archytas’ Enharmonic fr. Two Studies
on Ancient Greek Scales

John Schneider, guitar; Amy Shulman, harp
Bridge 9041
2:16
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Program 3

Mostly remembered for his stage and theater work, the fiercely political Marc Blitzstein's early Piano Concerto is heard along with a song from his opera "No for an Answer" (Paul Robeson singing "Joe's Birthday Song"). 

Colorado-born Miriam Gideon spent much of her life in New York, teaching and composing. Her Eclogue for Flute and Piano and her song "She Weeps over Rahoon" (with text taken from James Joyce) provide a glimpse of this underappreciated composer.

Bill then offers a surprising piece from Elliott Carter before moving on to several works by Gian Carlo Menotti (born in Italy but came to study at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia as a teenager), best known for his "Amahl and the Night Visitors" but here represented by excerpts from his operas "The Medium," and "Vanessa," his ballet "Sebastian" as well as his Violin Concerto. 

Marc Blitzstein: Concerto For Piano & Orchestra, I
Brooklyn Philharmonic/Foss; Barrett, p.
CRI 750
10:50
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Blitzstein: “The Purest Kind of Guy” (Joe’s Birthday Song)
from the opera No For An Answer

Paul Robeson, b.
Sony 63223
3:25
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Miriam Gideon: Eclogue for Flute and Piano
I. Lively and singing

Patricia Spencer, fl.; David Oei, p.
New World 80393
2:35
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Gideon: “She Weeps Over Rahoon”
William Sharp, bar.; Walter Hilse, p.
New World 80393
1:45
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Elliott Carter: Elegy
Arditti Quartet
Montaigne 782010
3:51
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Gian Carlo Menotti: “Monica’s Waltz” fr. The Medium
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/Levine; Fleming, sop.
London 460579
5:42
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Menotti: Violin Concerto, II
Pacific Symphony Orchestra/Clark; Ricci, v.
Reference Recordings 45
7:38
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Barber/Menotti: “Must the Winter Come so Soon?” fr. Vanessa
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Slatkin; Graham, ms.
Chandos 5032
2:34
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Menotti: Sebastian (excerpts)
I. Introduction
V. Sebastian’s Dance
II. Barcarolle

Spoleto Festival Orchestra/Hickox
Chandos 9900
8:38
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Menotti: Violin Concerto, I (excerpt)
Pacific Symphony Orchestra/Clark; Ricci, v.
Reference Recordings 45
1:31
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Program 4

This program features a series of short pieces by a variety of American composers including: Irving Fine, who studied with Walter Piston and was a member of the Boston school (here featured with a pair of Childhood Fables for Grownups profiling Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss); Norman Dello Joio (whose Meditations on Ecclesiastes won the Pulitzer Prize); Alan Hovhaness (Symphony No. 66: Hymn to Glacier Peak); Elie Siegmeister, who studied with Nadia Boulanger (Ten Minutes for Four Players); Kent Kennan (Night Soliloquy for Flute, Strings and Piano); Alwin Nikolais (Tribe: Dance 2 - a piece for Moog synthesizer) and John Cage (Dream).

Irving Fine: Quartet for Strings: Adagio non troppo
Lydian String Quartet
Nonesuch 79175
3:18
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Fine: Childhood Fables for Grownups
3. Lenny The Leopard, Dedicated to Leonard Bernstein
4. The Frog And The Snake, Dedicated to Lukas Foss

Susan Davenny Wyner, soprano; Yehudi Wyner, piano
CRI 574
3:48
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Fine: Partita
I. Allegro Moderato
II. Poco Vivace
III. Adagio

Boehm Quintet
Premier 1006
6:17
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Norman Dello Joio: Meditations on Ecclesiastes
I. Largo
II. Theme, Adagio con sentimento (…a time to be born…)

Philharmonia Orchestra/Amos
Kleos 5119
6:03
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Alan Hovhaness: Symphony No. 66, Hymn To Glacier Peak
I. Andante Maestoso

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Schwarz
Telarc 80604
9:10
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Elie Siegmeister: Ten Minutes for Four Players
I. Moderately Tranquil

Boehm Quintette
Premier 1006
4:43
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Kent Kennan: Night Soliloquy For Flute, Strings & Piano
Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Freeman; Stolper, fl.
Cedille 90000046
3:59
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Alwin Nikolais: Tribe: Dance 2
Nikolais, Moog synthesizer
CRI 651
2:59
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John Cage: Dream
John Schneider, guitar; Amy Shulman, harp
Bridge 9041
6:46
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Program 5

Born in Rochester, New York in 1915 David Diamond traveled to Paris in the 1930s where he met Ravel, James Joyce, Andre Gide and studied with Nadia Boulanger. The first piece by Diamond is "The Enormous Room" based on e.e. cummings' novel about being put in prison in France during the First World War. This episodes also features excerpts from Diamond's Symphony No. 3, his "Elegy in Memory of Maurice Ravel," his "Romeo and Juliet" and other works.

David Diamond: The Enormous Room (Fantasia For Orchestra)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Schwarz
Naxos 8.559157
15:31
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Diamond: Allegro Vivo from Symphony #3
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Schwarz
Naxos 8.559155
5:58
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Diamond: Elegy In Memory Of Maurice Ravel
Orchestra of St. Luke’s/John Adams
Nonesuch 79249
6:20
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Diamond: Partita for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano
II. Adagio espressivo

Michael Henoch, ob.; Bruce Grainger, bsn. &
Deborah Sobol, p. (Chicago Chamber Musicians)
Cedille 23
3:23
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Diamond: Prelude In C Sharp Minor & Prelude In C Major
William Black, p.
New World Records 80508
2:39
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Diamond: Overture, Balcony Scene, Romeo & Friar Laurence,
Juliet & her Nurse fr. Romeo and Juliet

New York Chamber Orchestra/Schwarz
Delos 3103
14:04
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Diamond: Fugue in E minor (excerpt)
William Black, p.
New World Records 80508
1:05
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