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Posted October 1, 2010
I enjoy most 20th century music, and I was excited by the opportunity to listen to a composer that was "new" to me. Typically I am not dissapointed in the selections for "Best Classical Album" - but this time I was. Not that the album itself is not good the sound is spectacular, and the playing of what is obviously very difficult music is outstanding. But maybe this is the problem. The whole time I was listening, the only thought I had was how difficult it must be to play - and NOT how much I was enjoying it. It's not 12-tone or atonal, it's not Glass-like minimalism, and it's not as "difficult" as later Ives can be. But it most assuredly IS noisy, and when all of the banging and pounding and blowing and scraping is done, I really am not sure what I've just listened to. The title composition is described as a fantasia on "America the Beautiful". Even knowing this from the start, I was hard pressed to isolate anything from the thickly dissonant harmonies and broken meters that even reminded me of that song. The second piece - "Tambor" - is a tour-de-force for the percussion section, but in sound is reminiscent of various "battle music" tracks from a Star Wars score - but without any recognizable melodies. The final "Concerto for Orchestra" (in two "parts" - whatever that means as the division seems to be completely arbitrary) sounds insanely difficult to play, but is harmonically, rhythmically, and melodically (if I can use that word) so disjointed that it often sounds like a collection of bits and pieces from various other works all strung together and/or superimposed over each other. The only people to whom I could recommend this album would be other performing instrumentalists who might marvel at the technical abilities of the performers. I give great kudos to Mr. Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony for an amazing performance, and the engineering team for a spectacular recording. I am anxiously waiting for a recording of music that is more worthy of their combined skills.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.