- Rainbow Body, for orchestra
- Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
- Appalachian Spring, concert suite for full orchestra
- blue cathedral, for flute, clarinet & orchestra
Judging by the appealing new music on Rainbow Body, the third CD from conductor Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the spirit of Copland and Barber is alive and well in America. Two works from American composers both born in the 1960s -- Christopher Theofanidis's Rainbow Body and Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral -- envelop Barber's Symphony No. 1 and Copland's Appalachian Spring on the attractive program, fitting like a glove with the down-to-earth style of the old master's music. Writing in accessible, tonal idioms and exploring the rich colors of the orchestra, Theofanidis and Higdon strike strong populist stances in their works, outwardly rejecting the challenging academic style that dominated American music for decades. Rainbow Body takes a theme from Hildegard von Bingen as its kernel, developing and expanding it into a lush sonic evocation of the Buddhist theory of enlightenment at death -- the source of the title. Similarly suggestive, blue cathedral was initially commissioned to mark the 75th anniversary of the Curtis conservatory, where Higdon teaches, but grew into a very personal commemoration of the death of the composer's brother from cancer. Spano and the Atlanta musicians put the best possible foot forward for these new works, and they play Barber's and Copland's well-known scores with the bright energy one expects from this Grammy-winning team. Faultless sound from Telarc tops off this eminently recommendable release.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm really commenting on Jennifer Higdon's work, "blue cathedral." I really enjoyed and was moved by this 12 minute sound poem, especially as I've come to realize the story Ms. Higdon was trying to tell. Her music is diatonic with dissonance used as "color" a la Copland. I think of it as programatic in the sense that there's a story behind it. The music is also impressionistic: colorful and exciting. This piece reaches several exciting climaxes and ends with a wonderful, peaceful denoumont of piano and bells. Highly recommended!