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Henry Cowell: Persian Set

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 9, 1994
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Editorial Reviews

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In 1956, American music pioneer Henry Cowell was sent by a cultural division of the U.S. Government on a musical tour of the world--not to spread his personal work, but to gather in the music of other countries to share back home. The first sojourn was to Iran... formerly Persia. With the musical knowledge he gained, he chose (besides recording music for Folkways records, later) to write a short composition that would condense many of the musical practices he encountered. The resulting piece was a reading not of specific Persian melodies, but of ambiguous Middle Eastern motifs, where the chatter of percussion meshed with violins and oboes took the slithery place of an oud (wooden instrument of the lute family). Persian Set, this merging of both Persian and Western instrumentation, became one of the most important hybrids of the American 20th-century canon. His other "sets" (on this CD), though composed earlier, use a similar method: the "American Melting Pot" series incorporates German, African, French, Slavic, and other motifs, and "Old American Country Set" has elements of the reels and hornpipes recalled from his childhood in the Midwest. --Robin Edgerton

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Persian Set: Moderato
  2. Persian Set: Allegretto
  3. Persian Set: Lento
  4. Persian Set: Presto
  5. Hymn & Fuguing Tune For Str Orch: Hymn
  6. Hymn & Fuguing Tune For Str Orch: Fuguing Tune
  7. American Melting Pot: Chorale (Teutonic-American)
  8. American Melting Pot: Air (African-American)
  9. American Melting Pot: Satire (French-American)
  10. American Melting Pot: Alapria (Oriental-American)
  11. American Melting Pot: Slavic Dance (Slavic-American)
  12. American Melting Pot: Rhumba w. an added eight note (Latin-American)
  13. American Melting Pot: Square Dance (Celtic-American)
  14. Air For Solo Vn & Str Orch - Michael Sutton
  15. Old American Country Set: Blarneying Lilt
  16. Old American Country Set: Meeting House
  17. Old American Country Set: Comallye
  18. Old American Country Set: Charivari
  19. Old American Country Set: Cornhuski' Hornpipe
  20. Adagio From Ens For Str Orch


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Manhattan Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Richard Auldon Clark
  • Audio CD (February 9, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Koch Int'L Classics
  • ASIN: B000001SGS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,010 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Having heard Cowell's piano works, I was expecting this to be atonal, highly percussive, etc. I was completely surprised by these compositions. They are closer to Debussey than other Cowell works. I am enjoying this CD immensely. Proof that sometimes it's worth taking a chance!
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We heard American Melting Pot on NPR and ordered this CD. Cowell is an underappreciated American composer. This will not get the play time in our house of a Bruckner or Mozart symphony - but for lighter fare it is well worth listening to.
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