Ferde Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite; Mississippi Suite; Death Valley Suite

Ferde Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite; Mississippi Suite; Death Valley Suite

4.0 2
by Ferde Grofé
     
 

This EMI American Classics release -- Ferde Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite -- is a repackaging of a CD released twice before, the first instance being back in the candy-box days of the CD in the Angel Great American series and another time as a super-budget Red Line issue. This contains Felix Slatkin's cinematic and at times a little high-strung 1956 recordings withSee more details below

Overview

This EMI American Classics release -- Ferde Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite -- is a repackaging of a CD released twice before, the first instance being back in the candy-box days of the CD in the Angel Great American series and another time as a super-budget Red Line issue. This contains Felix Slatkin's cinematic and at times a little high-strung 1956 recordings with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra of "Grand Canyon Suite" and "Mississippi Suite." These are coupled with Grofé's own 1954 recording of "Death Valley Suite" with the "Capitol Symphony Orchestra" -- basically the same group as was with Slatkin -- and adds, as the Great American disc did, an extra track in including a Grofé-led "Cloudburst" from the same session. For some reason, in an inexplicable bit of EMI stinginess, this little extra was left off the Red Line, something that definitely does not add value to the package; however, here the track is included once more. Slatkin's "Grand Canyon," made in stereo before the technology was available on records, is high spirited and colorful; "Painted Desert" is especially good. However, Slatkin's "Mississippi Suite" somewhat misses the mark. While it is common to drop the banjo solo in modern performances of "Mardi Gras," Slatkin doesn't give some of the best passages in the slower movements time to breathe, and "Huckleberry Finn" is done as pure corn, which would be fine if it always came off that way; but it doesn't. Grofé was an expert conductor of his own music -- and not every composer is -- and his Capitol recording of "Death Valley Suite" is representative, but something of a sonic antique, recorded in the same distant, glassy high fidelity that typifies Stan Kenton's recordings of about 1950. It's a pity that the bonus track of "Cloudburst" also comes across this way, as this is a particularly fiery performance, although the thunder machine nearly drowns out the orchestra in some spots. These recordings were seldom ever out of Capitol's catalog in the LP era and were introduced to CDs relatively early; for decades this was anyone's only option for the "Death Valley Suite," and EMI must have known it, as they kept these recordings around so long. That is no longer true as this third issue of the package makes its bow; there are preferable alternatives to everything on here, several in the case of "Grand Canyon Suite." If one is interested in hearing Grofé conduct, then this will not set you back by much. However, Grofé's music is so splendiferous, visual, loud, and lush that it seems a pity to restrict one's listening to recordings that are so old. If one is unfamiliar with Grofé's music in this kind of depth, and mainly in pursuit of a good "Grand Canyon Suite," you're best advised to go digital.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/24/2008
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
5099923445123
catalogNumber:
34451

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Grand Canyon Suite, for orchestra  -  Ferde Grofé  - Felix Slatkin  -  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
  2. Mississippi: A Journey in Tones (Mississippi Suite), for orchestra  -  Ferde Grofé  - Felix Slatkin  -  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
  3. Death Valley Suite, for orchestra  -  Ferde Grofé  -  Capitol Symphony Orchestra  -  Ferde Grofé
  4. Grand Canyon Suite, for orchestra: Cloudburst  -  Ferde Grofé  -  Capitol Symphony Orchestra  -  Ferde Grofé

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