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American Music for Percussion, Vol. 2

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More About This Product

Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/31/2011
  • Label: Naxos American
  • UPC: 636943968420
  • Catalog Number: 8559684
  • Sales rank: 328,662

Album Credits

Performance Credits
New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble Primary Artist
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 6, 2011

    Prominent composers find expression in percussion

    The glowing booklet discussion of this percussion music describes the compositions and their illustrious American composers. They are widely known and have been awarded numerous prizes for their contributions to American music. There is great celebration for Elliott Carter in his 104th year and the many musical contributions he has made.


    However, this recording does not entice the new listener into the world of percussion. One positive aspect would be its use as illustration for students interested in learning how to play such instruments as the squeeze or talking drum, temple blocks, or baritone nipple gong. Otherwise, this music could be used as background music at a jungle-themed fraternity party on some feelin¿-fine college campus.


    The first ominous clue comes from the Playlist which appears in Oriental characters, with the single exception of Tintinnabulation in English. While dire warnings abound these days that Oriental cultures will swallow up the American dream, the playlist envisions that threat as just around the corner. Secondly, while the cover and text describe Vol.2 of these sounds, the title inside the booklet is labeled Vol.1. For Tracks 4¿6, again the playlist refers to Items 1¿3. Was there an editor for this production?


    The Harbison Cortege varies from nervous cow bells to castanets to something from a zoo. It is no matter that the translation of the Rousseau First Voices text is unclear, because the words are unintelligible whatever the language. This piece begins suggestive of a Japanese war call, then a clock, next possibly dripping water torture, with a hopeful reference to jazz.


    Perhaps these pieces would be of interest to students exploring the capabilities of an orchestra, but listening to an actual concert of these instruments brings forth a vision of #3¿Acid Rain¿it¿s better to get away from it. The words ¿Truly American Classics¿ as noted on the CD itself cause an involuntary shudder.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Excellent addition to this important series

    "American Music for Percussion, vol. 2" with the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble continues what is becoming a great series! Just like the first volume, this disc features terrific works at a professional level by a fascinating bland of "name" composers and some lesser knowns. Elliot Carter's "Tintinnabulation" was written for Frank Epstein and premiered during the composer's 100th year. It is a unique sounding work due its reliance on non-pitched percussion and is divided into three sections that correspond to wood, skin and metal timbres. Peter Child is a music professor at MIT and his "Refrain" is a raucous one movement work for six percussionists. This piece also relies on varying timbres and speeds and closes with a wild "metallic" coda. Edward Cohen was on staff at Brandeis University and MIT among other prestigious places. His "Acid Rain", from 1997, is a very propulsive little work for glockenspiels, vibes, two pianos and chimes. It is intended to sound like Javanese gamelan music and is quite fun to listen to! John Harbison is the other best known in this terrific collection and his "Cortege" is a more sombre work, written as a "processional" (en corteggiare) to Harbison's late friend Donald Sur. The work exists in three movements and does have a ringing, bell like quality to it and was inspired in part by the composer's train trip through eastern Europe. Fred Lerdahl's "The First Voices" may be the most unusual piece in this set, featuring eight percussionists and three singers. The piece is inspired both by some very mathematical African drumming patterns as well as a text (sung) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Essay in the Origins of Language" Each of these pieces has a vibrant, insistent, quality to it and illustrates very well the variety of sounds and textures that a professional percussion ensemble playing excellent music can produce! The NEC Ensemble under the direction of Frank Epstein proves their skill and dedication once again and I enjoyed this collection a lot! I look forward to volume 3, knowing that there are plenty of great percussion ensemble works out there that deserve to be heard!

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