Ruth Crawford Seeger: Portrait

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Joseph Stevenson
Sometimes it is difficult to see how classical labels make money. The good labels keep releasing highly worthwhile but seemingly uncommercial projects like this one: Nine short mostly highly dissonant and virtually unknown works by an American woman composer plus one work by her husband. British conductor Oliver Knussen seems to be the driving force behind the project. Using his Schoenberg Ensemble as the heart of a recording in which no work is for the same performing forces as any other, he also uses the new London Chamber Choir, four vocal soloists, and chamber groupings including a string quartet and a wind quintet. All the performances are outstanding, the players...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Joseph Stevenson
Sometimes it is difficult to see how classical labels make money. The good labels keep releasing highly worthwhile but seemingly uncommercial projects like this one: Nine short mostly highly dissonant and virtually unknown works by an American woman composer plus one work by her husband. British conductor Oliver Knussen seems to be the driving force behind the project. Using his Schoenberg Ensemble as the heart of a recording in which no work is for the same performing forces as any other, he also uses the new London Chamber Choir, four vocal soloists, and chamber groupings including a string quartet and a wind quintet. All the performances are outstanding, the players all getting through the pieces like they were everyday repertory. The disc was recorded in church in Utrecht in February 1996. Despite the widely varying performing forces involved, producer Sid McLaughlan and Tonmeister (balance engineer) Reinhard Lagemann get remarkably consistent sound. Knussen emerges as a culture hero for his part in getting this music released on a major label. He provides both a reason and this writer's conclusion after hearing it: "Ruth Crawford Seeger's music grows in stature the more one gets to know it. [With each utterly original conception] she got the execution of the idea right first time and immediately moved on to something new." You don't need to buy it to encourage record companies to continue taking chances on unusual music (though that's a good one). Get it because here is a woman who said a lot in a remarkably original and concise way. Sure, it's tough modern music, but it's very good music that can expand your horizons.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/27/1998
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • UPC: 028944992526
  • Catalog Number: 449925

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–2 Music for Small Orchestra - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (9:58)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
    1. 1 Slow, pensive
    2. 2 In roguish humor. Not fast
  2. 3–5 Three Chants, for women's chorus - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (9:23)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
    Conducted byJames Wood
    Performed byJames Wood, New London Chamber Choir, Jeanette Ager, Amanda Pitt
    1. 3 To An Unkind God
    2. 4 To An Angel [with soprano solo]
    3. 5 (To A Kind God) [with soprano and alto solo]
  3. 6 Piano Study in Mixed Accents, for piano - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (1:28)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
  4. 7–9 Three Songs on Poems by Carl Sandburg, for voice, oboe, piano & percussion with optional orchestral ostinati - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (8:45)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
    Performed byLucy Shelton, Ger de Zeeuw
    1. 7 Rat Riddles
    2. 8 Prayers of Steel
    3. 9 In Tall Grass
  5. 10–13 String Quartet 1931 - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (11:40)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
    1. 10 Rubato assai
    2. 11 Leggiero
    3. 12 Andante
    4. 13 Allegro possibile
  6. 14–15 Two Ricercare, for voice and piano - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (9:40)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
    Performed byLucy Shelton
    1. 14Sacco, Vanzetti
    2. 15Chinaman, Laundryman
  7. 16 Andante, for string orchestra (arranged from 3rd movement of String Quartet 1931) - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (4:03)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
  8. 17 Rissolty, Rossolty, an American fantasy for orchestra - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (2:59)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
  9. 18 John Hardy - Oliver Knussen & Charles Seeger (3:40)
    Composed byCharles Seeger
  10. 19–21 Suite, for wind quintet - Ruth Crawford Seeger & Oliver Knussen (10:04)
    Composed byRuth Crawford Seeger
    1. 19 Allegretto
    2. 20 Lento rubato
    3. 21 Allegro possibile - Andante - Allegro - Meno mosso - Tempo primo
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Oliver Knussen Primary Artist
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