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Ruggles: Complete Music of Carl Ruggles

Judith Blegen , Beverly Morgan , John Kirkpatrick , Leonard Raver , Carl Ruggles , Michael Tilson Thomas , Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Composer: Carl Ruggles
  • Audio CD (April 24, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Other Minds
  • ASIN: B007C7FFJA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,160 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Complete Music of Carl Ruggles Michael Tilson Thomas / Buffalo Philharmonic Carl Ruggles (1876-1971) was an innovative American composer who used 'dissonant counterpoint' to fashion a body of work both finely crafted and wrought with emotional power. For fans of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, and Edgard Varsse, this reissue includes world renowned conductor Michael Tilson Thomas with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the original liner notes plus a rare essay on Ruggles by Lou Harrison and historic photos of the composer. 'Rarely has so modest an output focused such a wealth of imagination and pungency.' - John Kirkpatrick

Review

Now Other Minds, the San Francisco new-music organization, has done these recordings proud in a superb transfer, with all the original liner notes as well as an expansive overview by the composer Lou Harrison. . . the performances here capture the power and originality of Ruggles's spirit. --New York Times, Allan Kozinn

It can also be said that anyone who says yes to American music has to own 'The Complete Music of Carl Ruggles,' a CD reissue (on Other Minds) of the legendary recordings by Michael Tilson Thomas and the Buffalo Philharmonic , which were originally released on two LPs by CBS Masterworks in 1980. --The New Yorker, Russell Platt

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark Recording Finally on CD April 26, 2012
Format:Audio CD
I had the pleasure of hearing an advance copy of this two disc set and wrote about it in my blog [...]. Here is the text of that review:

At long last the 1980 CBS recording of The Complete Music of Carl Ruggles (1876-1971) has been reissued by Other Minds records (OM 1021/2-2). I have owned the vinyl two disc set for many years having come across a review of it in a list of suggested recordings of American classical music in, of all places, The Whole Earth Catalog. And it is definitely a vital part of any serious collection of American classical music. Ruggles was one of a group collectively labeled, "The American Five", a title intended to compare the group with the French "Le Six", the "Russian Five" or the often cited "Three B's" (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms). The American group consists of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger, Carl Ruggles and John J. Becker who strove to define an American sound not beholden to the European models which had dominated the previous century. Ruggles' students included James Tenney and Merton Brown.

This album is a recording of Ruggles' complete published works. A recent recording of newly unearthed ephemera was recently released but the present record is everything that Ruggles acknowledged and approved. It is a meager output for a man who lived to the age of 95 similar to the output of the equally important Edgard Varese whose complete works also fit on two vinyl records and the music is just as finely crafted. The music here is likely not as familiar even to those who know the work of Ives and Cowell. But make no mistake this is powerful and unique music that deserves more than just a casual listen.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential voice in American classical music September 21, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I've been waiting for this record to be re-released for as long as I've owned a CD player. Originally released by Columbia Masterworks in 1980, on two LPS, this music is almost that Ruggles published. (There is another disc, The Uncovered Ruggles, with some bits and pieces essentially for piano; the title of this new release is, therefore, not entirely exact.) With just over 86 minutes of music on this release, and another half hour on The Uncovered Ruggles, Carl Ruggles' influence is much greater than the amount of music he composed.

I first came across his music accidentally, stumbling on a documentary about him around 1982, broadcast on PBS. Michael Tilson-Thomas, who conducted the Columbia recordings, was in the documentary, and while I don't remember anything about it now, the opening chords of Sun-treader, Ruggles' longest work, at around 16 minutes, had me heading for a record store the next day. Sun-treader is to orchestral music what Ives' Concord Sonata is to piano music, but much shorter and more concentrated. Harsh and dissonant, it is a powerful work, full of the energy of the iconoclast. Men and Mountains, at around 12 minutes in 3 movements, has a similar tone, with pounding tympani and strident brass. Portals, a 6+ minute work for string orchestra, burns with incisive chords. And Evocations, a four-movement work for orchestra (along with an earlier piano version) follow in the same vein.

Ruggles' orchestral work is powerful and uncompromising. His piano music has that Ivesian other-worldliness. He is dissonant, contrapuntal, yet the dissonance doesn't shock; his music is aggressive; his voice is unique, and his sound world original. It's a shame he didn't compose more.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruggles Returns - But Is anyone Listening? May 28, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
My knowledge of Ruggles music has been pretty much limited to the MTT/ Boston recording of "Sun Treader" on DG (followed later by Dohnanyi's version), and the old Lucas Foss/Vox recording of "Men and Mountains." Of course, those are Ruggles' major works out of the 12 he left us.

I became a bit infatuated with "Suntreader" during my college years. I bought into the marketing that surrounded Ruggles those days - the iconoclastic American free spirit whose music was difficult, and whose very existence was a thumb in the eye to all of that conventional classical music that didn't have to work to be popular (you know, Rachmaninoff, Puccini et al).

Amazing how easy it is to rebel against convention when you're no more familiar with convention than you are with the radical!

I mention the above because my listening to this set has left me perplexed on many levels. I'm having a difficult time connecting to this music, intellectually and emotionally. I did very much enjoy "Portals for String Orchestra" - which was new to me - but I didn't connect at all to the vocal selections ("Toys"; "Vox Clamans in Deserto"), which sounded to me the way I imagine Wagner sounds to my cat.

The trumpet/trombone version of "Angels" seemed to me to be a rip-off of sections of Berg's Wozzeck (this piece is extremely well-played on this disc). I found myself warming to his "Evocations," perhaps because Ruggles employs some rhythmic patterns in this piece that are also native to his Sun Treader. Sun Treader itself is well-played on this set (if not the equal of the other versions I mentioned), but even this very familiar piece seems to have lost its sense of uniqueness to me.
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