Genesis Suite

Genesis Suite

by Gerard Schwarz
     
 

In 1944 composer and conductor Nat Shilkret asked six famous composers based in Hollywood to collaborate on "Genesis Suite," an anthology of pieces for chorus and orchestra illustrating narrated portions of the Book of Genesis. Premiered November 18, 1945, in Los Angeles, the "Genesis Suite" was also recorded shortly after, fortunately for posterity's sake asSee more details below

Overview

In 1944 composer and conductor Nat Shilkret asked six famous composers based in Hollywood to collaborate on "Genesis Suite," an anthology of pieces for chorus and orchestra illustrating narrated portions of the Book of Genesis. Premiered November 18, 1945, in Los Angeles, the "Genesis Suite" was also recorded shortly after, fortunately for posterity's sake as the full score was later consumed in a fire. This disc in Naxos' Milken Archive American Jewish Music series attempts to recover this ambitious program, utilizing surviving score material combined with transcriptions from the recordings made by Patrick Russ. Conductor Gerard Schwarz leads the Berliner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, Sigurd Brauns directs the Ernst Senff Choir, and a star-studded lineup, including actresses Barbara Feldon and Tovah Feldshuh, handle the narration. Everyone does a fine job with this piece, particularly in Schoenberg's difficult "Prelude." As a whole, the "Genesis Suite" is not the sum of its best parts. Shilkret insisted that each composer work out a literal musical depiction of the action, a condition only Igor Stravinsky resisted. "Genesis Suite" is not so much a compilation of the combined efforts of the great Los Angeles-based composers of the 1940s as it is a series of examples of these same musicians working outside their natural idiom. The narration, usually delivered in slow, measured cadences, cannot help but sound pompous. Darius Milhaud, in "Cain and Abel," is the only one of these composers to integrate the narration into the rhythm of the music, and his approach may have in some way stimulated Schoenberg toward what was realized in "A Survivor from Warsaw." Yet Castelnuovo-Tedesco's setting of "The Flood" wanders into uncomfortable pictorialism not germane to his style, and some elements are predictable; for example, the departure of the animals from Noah's ark elicits a rigorous fugal statement from the orchestra in Ernst Toch's "The Covenant." The "Genesis Suite" is an interesting project historically and is worth recording well once. Yet any interest and enthusiasm one may drum up in favor of this recording will be tempered by the number of times the listener will return to it, which will not be many.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/21/2004
Label:
Milken Archive
UPC:
0636943944226
catalogNumber:
8559442
Rank:
338536

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Prelude, for wordless chorus & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite"), Op. 44  - Arnold Schoenberg  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies
  2. Creation, for narrator, chorus & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite")  - Nathaniel Shilkret  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies
  3. Adam and Eve, for narrator & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite")  - Alexandre Tansman  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies
  4. Cain and Abel, for reciter & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite"), Op. 241  - Darius Milhaud  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies
  5. The Flood (Noah's Ark), for narrator, chorus & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite")  - Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies
  6. The Covenant (The Rainbow), for narrator & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite")  - Ernst Toch  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies
  7. Babel, cantata for reciter, male chorus & orchestra (for collaborative cantata "Genesis Suite")  - Igor Stravinsky  -  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  - Sigurd Brauns  -  Ernst Senff Chorus, Berlin  - Gerard Schwarz  - Barbara Feldon  - Tovah Feldshuh  - Fritz Weaver  - Isaiah Sheffer  - David Margulies

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