Virgil Thompson: The Plow that Broke the Plains; The Riverby Angel Gil-Ordóñez
The few recordings of Virgil Thomson's scores for The Plow that Broke the Plains have all been quite fine in different ways. Of them, Leopold Stokowski's 1960 effort with the Symphony of the Air -- a brilliant and vivacious recording on Vanguard Classics -- has been the one to beat. Here, Angel Gil-Ordóñez offers an effort that gives Stokowski a run for his money. There's a delightful swing in the Washington-based Post-Classical Ensemble's rhythms, and a sweet tone in their solos. Gil-Ordóñez's deft balancing of colors and, most importantly, sensitivity to Thomson's populist manner makes a strong case for the music. Naxos provides clearer, warmer, and deeper sound than any of the digital competition in this repertoire.
- Release Date:
- Naxos American
- The Plow That Broke the Plains, film score - Virgil Thomson - Angel Gil-Ordóñez - PostClassical Ensemble
- The River, film score (2 versions) - Virgil Thomson - Angel Gil-Ordóñez - PostClassical Ensemble
Performance CreditsAngel Gil-Ordóñez Primary Artist
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Hats off to Naxos for making available Virgil Thomson’s soundtracks to the New Deal documentaries The Plow that Broke the Plains and The River, which respectively explored the Dust Bowl era and flood control of the Mississippi River. Thomson’s quintessentially American music — bold, brash and emotionally direct — provided the perfect accompaniment to these groundbreaking, socially orientated films. The composer applied his kaleidoscopic musical palette to both projects, mixing folk, country, jazz and classical forms to create sound pictures keenly attuned to the onscreen action. He also made witty and ironic use of homespun instruments such as banjo, guitar and harmonium. The result was music of deceptive simplicity that nevertheless communicates with great power and clarity without overpowering the visuals. In their vivid and unpretentious evocation of American spirit and rhythms, Thomson’s soundtracks provided a refreshing alternative to the lushly orchestrated scores that dominated Hollywood in the thirties and forties.