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Under an American Sky - SAVE £8

Under an American Sky - SAVE 8

Ref: CDG1142

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17 tracks 66 min
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Music for the wide open spaces

Great things are done when men and mountains meet (William Blake)
From Charles Ives to classic Coolidge, this program of evocative American music captures the essence of the American spirit and its relationship to the landscape.

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Under an American Sky
Music for the wide open spaces

Great things are done when men and mountains meet (William Blake). A program of American music with breadth of vision. From Charles Ives to Ulysses Kay and from the eighteenth century Belknap to classic Coolidge, this series of evocative pieces captures the essence of the American spirit, and its relationship to the massive landscape and the rural underpinnings of its society.

1 New England Autumn - Dawn over the mountain
2 New England Autumn - Country Fair
3 Spirituals in Sunshine and Shadow
Peggy Stuart Coolidge (1913-1981)
The Westphalian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Siegfried Landau

4 The Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Daniel Belknap (1771-1815)
The Gregg Smith Singers

From The Black Belt
5 Li'l Scamp
6 Honeysuckle
7 Dance
8 Mah Bones is Creaking
9 Blue
10 Brown Girl
11 Clap Yo'Han's
William Grant Still (1895-1978)
Music for Westchester Symphony Orchestra conducted by Siegfried Landau

From Six Dances for String Orchestra:
12 Round Dance
13 Promenade (slow)
Ulysses Simpson Kay (1917-1995)
The Westphalian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Siegfried Landau

Violin Sonata No 4 'Children's day at the camp meeting'
14 Allegro
15 Largo; Allegro
16 Allegro
Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Millard Taylor, violin, and Frank Glazer, piano

17 Pops Hoe Down
Richard Hayman (1920-)
The Cincinatti Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel


CCL CDG1142
Cover image: Kelly's Basin, Jay Mountain, Adirondacks (oil on canvas) Rockwell Kent 1882-1971 Private Collection Christie's Images/Bridgeman Art Library
All tracks courtesy of Countdown Media
This compilation P & C 2005 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

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Under an American Sky
Music for the wide open spaces

Great things are done when men and mountains meet (William Blake). A program of American music with breadth of vision. From Charles Ives to Ulysses Kay and from the eighteenth century Belknap to classic Coolidge, this series of evocative pieces captures the essence of the American spirit, and its relationship to the massive landscape and the rural underpinnings of its society.

Peggy Stuart Coolidge was an American pianist, composer, and conductor. In 1937 she composed the first known ballet music for ice skating, Cracked Ice, for the Boston Skating Club. It was later orchestrated by Ferde Grofé, (see Americana, CCL CDG1139) and was performed in Boston by the Boston Pops and in Madison Square Garden. During a stay in Moscow (an unusual thing at the time) she became friends with the composer Aram Khachaturian and became a cultural ambassador for American music: Khachaturian recommended some of her compositions to the Union of Soviet Composers and in 1970 a concert was arranged made up entirely of her music. She was the first American to be accorded this honor and, at the same time, she was awarded the medal of the Soviet Union of Workers in Art. Back in the USA, she was involved with several film projects including a score for The Silken Affair which starred David Niven.

Daniel Belknap published half a dozen or so volumes of music in Boston between 1797 and 1806. His style is a development of the vocal music of the early American settlers (see A Gift to be Simple CCL CDG1136) and it has the charming openness and simplicity which is such an important feature of the music of the period. The Seasons is a lovely piece and owes a lot to the 'shape note' hymns and psalms of William Billings, America's first published composer. The poignant strains of Summer are particularly beautiful.

William Grant Still was born in Mississippi. He wrote music characterised by great skill with melody and a high degree of technical fluency. He was a pioneer in many ways: he was, for example, the first African-American in the United States to have a symphony performed by a major symphony orchestra. He was the first to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the United States, when, in 1936, he directed the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. He was the first African-American to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the Deep South in 1955, when he directed the New Orleans Philharmonic at Southern University. Still composed beautiful music within the classical tradition, but with a definite American flavor.

Ulysses Simpson Kay was born in Arizona into a large, musical family. He studied at the Eastman School of Music and later with Paul Hindemith at Yale. After World War II, Kay travelled in Europe before returning to a musical career in the United States. Like Coolidge, he was involved in cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union. His music combines his jazz heritage (his uncle was the famous jazzman King Oliver) and his years of playing in bands and jazz orchestras with a thorough understanding of the techniques of twentieth-century classical music, to which Kay brings his own unique melodic gifts as well as a unique sense of orchestral balance and colour. This makes a very dynamic musical mix which is quite infectious and uplifting.

Charles Ives is one of the greatest of American composers, and a largely self-taught one at that. Ives was never part of any established musical tradition. But he was inspired by what he heard and saw around him as a child and young man in New England. He was a true musical pioneer, and composed music which still sounds extraordinarily modern and unusual to us today, around a hundred years later. Not for him the regular study of harmony and counterpoint, European style. Not for him the salon sounds of Macdowell (see American Impressions CCL CDG1143) or the Boston Classicists. Not for him the pretty music of academics from the universities and conservatoires of East coast America. Instead, Ives' music is the music of small town America. It's what he heard at the town meeting, it's the village band, or the singing of the farm labourers, and it's music from town festivities such as Fourth of July parades - or musical pictures captured at a camp meeting in the mountains and forests.

Richard Hayman began his career as a harmonica virtuoso, before going on to work with many of the most famous names in popular music including Vaughn Monroe. In the 1950s Hayman could be heard on the Mercury record label, often featuring his brilliant harmonica playing. He worked hard for the Boston Pops orchestra, serving as stand-in for the conductor Arthur Fiedler, and producing many spectacular orchestral arrangements.


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