Search - Aaron Copland, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Morton Gould :: Great American Composers

Great American Composers
Aaron Copland, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Morton Gould
Great American Composers
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Rock, Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1


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Great Hanson Symphony ... Outstanding Griffes, too
Classic Music Lover | Maryland, USA | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pay no attention to the weird title of this CD -- "Golden Years 1958" is frankly non-sensical and has nothing at all to do with the actual contents of the album, which contains some great interpretations of American orchestral music familiar and rare.

These recordings by Charles Gerhardt, originally made for Reader's Digest back in the 1960s, are some of the better renditions you can find of these pieces. Gerhardt's take on the Howard Hanson "Romantic" Symphony is very fine -- as good as the composer's own interpretation on Mercury, and certainly highly competitive with other readings by Slatkin, Schwarz and others. The Morton Gould miniature is much closer to "pop" than "classical", but is no less engaging for all that. The Copland excerpts from "Billy the Kid" do not include all the numbers we usually hear in the suite, but what's here is very good indeed.

The biggest thrill comes with the two Griffes numbers: The White Peacock and The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan. These are powerfully moving interpretations that drive right to the top of the list of choices (Hanson, Schwarz, Falletta and others). In a nod to Stokowski, Gerhardt has tinkered with the orchestration in places, enhancing things particularly in the "tuneful percussion" area. These embellishments work ... in fact, the way Gerhardt alters just a couple notes at the end of the Pleasure Dome -- where the exhausted orchestra finds itself back in the lowest register after the final shattering climax -- is one of the most moving and cathartic moments you'll ever hear in music; it's that special.

Highly recommended, then, as a great traversal of some of the major highlights of American composition from the first half of the 20th Century."