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Rainbow Body / Blue Cathedral / Symphony 1 / Appalachian Spring Suite

4.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 9, 2006
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$15.75 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 16 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Product Description

Rainbow Body / Blue Cathedral / Symphony 1 / Appalachian Spring Suite

Amazon.com

lanking two major works from an earlier generation of American composers are two shorter ones by contemporaries whose command of orchestral textures and hues make for a stimulating program. Christopher Theofanidis' Rainbow Body opens quietly, and builds to a shattering brass-and-percussion-led close, fully exploiting the rich colors of Atlanta's crack orchestra. Jennifer Higdon's Blue Cathedral, which closes the disc, is a finely textured exploration that, in her words, represents an imaginary journey "through a glass cathedral in the sky." It has a soaring quality that captivates, and while not as melodic as Theofanidis' piece, is as compelling in its own way. Spano excels in the Barber and Copland works too; the Barber Symphony No. 1, played with coiled energy, the Copland Suite from Appalachian Spring, full of atmosphere and momentum. Both are among the best available. This brilliantly engineered disc is a winner. --Dan Davis

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Rainbow Body
  2. Symphony No.1, Op.9
  3. Suite From Appalachian Spring
  4. Blue Cathedral


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Robert Spano
  • Composer: Christopher Theofanidis, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Jennifer Higdon
  • Audio CD (July 9, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000096FU3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,626 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc is both oddly and creatively programmed. Oddly, because for a CD buyer it combines two very familiar American orchestral works, many-times recorded--Barber's First Symphony and Copland's Appalachian Spring Suite--with two brand new pieces. One wonders who would buy it; most of us probably already have the older pieces, and would ask ourselves whether we should buy a new CD with only about 25 minutes of unfamiliar music on it. [My own personal answer would be 'Yes!'] Creatively, because the two new pieces--Chris Theofanidis's 'Rainbow Body' and Jennifer Higdon's 'blue cathedral' (don't ask me why no caps in the title)--are quite similar to their older discmates and the programming calls attention to that. How similar? Well, they are utterly tonal, as are the Barber and the Copland, have an unmistakably American sound, and are original in their impact, as were the older pieces when they were new.
The two new pieces are also alike in that they are among the better products of the so-called New Romanticism and, further, partake of another rather more European trend, the New Mysticism, like that of pieces by Tavener or Pärt, or closer to home, the ecstatic mysticism of American Richard Einhorn, whose 'Voices of Light' (happily introduced to me by fellow Amazon reviewer Bob Zeidler) has become such a phenomenon.
The two standard works on this disc--the Barber and the Copland--are given sterling performances here by Robert Spano, that extraordinarily talented American conductor, and his fine Atlanta Symphony, and the sound is also sterling, something we have come to expect from Telarc. These performances rank with the best ever made. Certainly, if you don't have recordings of either of these pieces you will not go wrong obtaining this CD.
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Format: Audio CD
Conductor Robert Spano, his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Telarc brought home, not one, not two, but 3 Grammys with their previous release, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony: Best Classical Album, Best Engineered Album, and Best Choral Performance (of course the Atlanta Symphony Chorus had a prominent role in that case). And it deserves every bit of the wild, unanimous acclaim it's received (just take a look at the customer reviews of that recording here on Amazon!)
This new release is certainly a worthy successor... let's hope there are many more to come from this masterful team. I just can't stop listening to it. The choice of repertoire is brilliant in its novelty and variety, yet coherence and pacing. The Theofanidis title track is, for severe lack of vocabulary, drop-dead dazzling. It moves compellingly from ravishing, breathtaking beauty to spine-tingling, hair-raising power. It's especially enjoyable to listen to in conjunction with Hildegard's "Ave Maria, O Auctrix Vite" (as on Sequentia's Canticles of Ecstasy), the chant which inspired and permeates the piece.
Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral is every bit as irresistibly gorgeous and effective. You really MUST hear these pieces, especially performed at this superb level of musicality and recorded in Jack Renner's customarily peerless sound.
In case the new stuff isn't enough to persuade you to purchase, you should know that the accounts of Barber's First Symphony and Copland's Appalachian Spring Suite are unsurpassed in the recorded catalog. There... intrigued?
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Format: Audio CD
This is an exciting program that juxtaposes fresh-minted, and very fresh-sounding, American works with American classics, in the case of Copland, almost an American warhorse. However, in Spano's beautiful and sensitive reading this warhorse sounds about as fresh as the new music here. I'm talking about "Appalachian Spring," just about everyone's favorite Copland but a work that is so ubiquitous, thanks to the setting of "A Gift to Be Simple" it contains, we often forget just how marvelous a work it is. Unless someone comes along with the gift to play it with the kind of intensity and sense of discovery usually reserved for new music. I think that characterizes Spano's approach, and this is one of the very best recordings this oft-recorded work has received.
On the other hand, Barber's First Symphony has been well served on disc; there have been fine recordings from the likes of Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, and Marin Alsop. If Spano and Atlanta have nothing especially new to add, theirs is a handsome performance full of the tragic drama that has commended this work to listeners since it was written.
But many will come to this disc for the new music primarily. Be assured it doesn't sound out of place in such august company. Christopher Theofanidis's "Rainbow Body" takes as its point of departure a piece by the medieval mystic and composer Hildegard von Bingen. The melody is fragmented, then put back together in music that builds to an intense pitch. "Rainbow Body" sometimes sounds like Hovhaness, but that is mostly a matter of a similar reliance on a modal melody and strangely similar orchestral garb in which the melody is clothed at each of its appearances.
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