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The Nash Ensemble - American Chamber Music: Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman, Copland (2015)

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The Nash Ensemble - American Chamber Music: Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman, Copland (2015)

The Nash Ensemble - American Chamber Music: Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman, Copland (2015)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 292 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 177 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: Hyperion | # CDA68094 | Time: 01:15:36

This programme features concert music by composers who also wrote film scores for Hollywood. While this was just one string to the considerable bows of Gershwin and Copland, Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman are best known for their music for Hitchcock films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Marnie and Psycho for Herrmann; and Rebecca and The Paradine Case for Waxman). Centre stage is Gershwin’s Song-book, arranged by the composer for solo piano in order to present the songs ‘as George Gershwin plays them himself’.

Bernard Herrmann was not satisfied with being a film composer of genius: he wanted to conquer the concert hall too, and 40 years after his death he’s making some headway. There’s a Bernard Herrmann Society and his film music is now getting a hearing in concert versions too. Souvenirs, his last concert work, is charmingly pastoral in a style that dates back almost a century, beautifully played here. In the 18 delightful piano transcriptions forming the Gershwin Song-book, the normally impeccable Ian Brown is not dry enough and his rhythms are sometimes flaccid. Gershwin said: ‘One must guard against the tendency to make too frequent use of the sustaining pedal…The rhythms of American popular music should be made to snap, and at times to cackle.’ There was a wonderful Gershwin LP by the versatile American pianist William Bolcom (Nonesuch, 1973, fortunately now on CD). As a composer too he knew his way round these popular idioms. Then there’s Peter Donohoe (EMI) with Rhapsody in Blue on the same CD, where he and Rattle know exactly how to play it tough rather than weakly sentimental.

Franz Waxman is another award-winning composer who worked in Hollywood and with Hitchcock. His unpretentious Four Scenes from Childhood were written for the birth of Heifetz’s son in 1948. Copland arranged the two numbers from Billy the Kid himself – the Waltz is not in the Suite.

Review by Peter Dickinson, Gramophone

I’m always pleased to see discs of music by people thought of solely as ‘film music composers’. While that isn’t the case for Gershwin and Copland it certainly is for Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman. It must have always been particularly difficult for Herrmann to shake off the association with his music for Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, not because it was no good but, on the contrary because it was excellent, especially the famous shower scene. There are echoes of some of the gentler passages from the film music in his delightfully tuneful and melodic Souvenirs de voyage but otherwise this is as far removed from 1960s America as it’s possible to be. It's more redolent of the salons of fin de siècle Paris. However, the influences for it came from British and Irish sources such as the poems of A.E. Housman for the first movement. The second evokes images of the isles of Aran in Galway Bay as booklet writer Nigel Simeone notes, and J.M. Synge’s play Riders to the sea. The finale brings with it images of Venice via the watercolours that Turner created there.

While Herrmann takes the listener far away from 1960s America George Gershwin’s Song-book is intensely evocative of the America of the 1920s. These pieces, all of which are so well known, are played in this version ‘as George Gershwin actually plays them himself’ with all the embellishments he was fond of inserting into his otherwise simple tunes - simple that is when sung. As he explained “Playing my songs as frequently as I do at private parties, I have naturally been led to compose numerous variations upon them, and to indulge the desire for complication that every composer feels when he manipulates the same material over and over again.” The project took him three years to complete during which time more of his shows appeared on Broadway and so some tunes from them also found their way into this collection. Gershwin was an exceptional pianist and readily accepted that some of these solo piano transcriptions are difficult and “… have been put in for good pianists, of whom there are a growing number, who enjoy popular music …” Ian Brown is by any definition more than a ‘good pianist’ and shows that he is at home playing this kind of repertoire as he is anything else he is called upon to play. He makes these pieces shine as brightly as any ‘jazz’ pianist could do.

Franz Waxman was aged 28 when he arrived in the USA as a refugee from Nazi Germany and had already composed several film scores before leaving for America, including for Fritz Lang (Liliom) so soon made an impact in his new homeland, writing some of the best film music including Rebecca, Suspicion, The Philadelphia Story and Sunset Boulevard. His Four scenes from childhood which he dedicated to Heifetz to commemorate the birth of his son Jay in 1948, are the most charming little gems. They start with Good Morning and a musical evocation of a clock striking 7 a.m. - not that one has to wake babies up. This is followed by Promenade in the shape of a brisk waltz. Then comes Playtime with echoes of Prokofiev’s spiky rhythms and finally there's Bedtime Story which includes a bar charmingly marked quasi yawning and ending with the clock announcing 7 p.m. This is followed by four quiet chords - a truly delightful piece and a wonderful present for any new father.

We are back with Gershwin for two more short pieces starting with his Promenade (Walking the dog) for clarinet and piano which was composed for the film Shall we dance (1937) - another of Fred Astaire's and Ginger Rogers’ hits which got its alternative title from the scene where it was used when the two stars walked Rogers’ dog Walter along the deck of an ocean liner. It is a wonderfully evocative and jaunty little tune that perfectly illustrates the scene. The two instruments, clarinet and piano, vividly bring the image to mind. Gershwin’s Lullaby is a delightful concoction that shows what a composer of ‘popular’ music can do when he wants to show a slightly more sober side with Debussian echoes.

Aaron Copland enjoyed a career that helped establish an ‘American’ music that no longer looked towards Europe for inspiration but instead relied on depicting the wide open spaces of the plains. It is shot through with echoes of the folksongs that were enjoyed by the pioneers who forged new lives as they spread out from the East. These two selections from his ballet Billy the Kid are usually heard in their orchestral version but stripped down for cello and piano they work quite brilliantly. It may seem ironic that what became the very definition in musical terms of the American west, its landscapes and its tough frontier spirit, should be penned by a Brooklyn-born Jew in Paris. That only highlights the fact that music knows no boundaries when the composers have minds that can conjure up worlds that may seem totally different from their own experience. That is the very essence that marks out the successful composer of film music and which was shown to perfection by the likes of Herrmann and Waxman as well as Copland to which list one could add many more. It also underlines the argument that these composers were very much more than just composers of music for films. This disc is a perfect illustration of that. All the music is lovingly played as one has come to expect from this hugely successful and well respected ensemble. This disc deserves to be heard as a great example of American chamber music from the 20th century.

Review by Steve Arloff, MusicWeb-international


The Nash Ensemble - American Chamber Music: Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman, Copland (2015)




The Nash Ensemble:
Ian Brown, piano
Richard Hosford, clarinet
Marianne Thorsen, violin
Laura Samuel, violin
Lawrence Power, viola
Rebecca Gilliver, cello

Tracklist:

Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975)
Souvenirs de voyage (1967), for clarinet and string quartet
01. 1. Lento: Molto tranquillo (11:44)
02. 2. Andante: Berceuse (06:39)
03. 3. Andantino: Canto amoroso (08:10)

George Gershwin (1898-1937)
George Gershwin's Song-book (1932)
for solo piano, arranged by the composer
04. Clap yo' hands (00:55)
05. Do-do-do (01:07)
06. Do it again (01:31)
07. Fascinating rhythm (00:58)
08. I got rhythm (01:25)
09. I'll build a stairway to paradise (00:45)
10. Liza (03:00)
11. The man I love (02:12)
12. My one & only (00:55)
13. Nobody but you (00:58)
14. Oh, lady be good (01:00)
15. Somebody loves me (01:11)
16. Strike up the band (00:59)
17. Swanee (00:54)
18. Sweet & low down (01:17)
19. 'S wonderful (01:14)
20. That certain feeling (01:25)
21. Who cares? (01:33)

Franz Waxman (1906-1967)
Four scenes from childhood (1948), for violin and piano
22. 1. Good morning (02:11)
23. 2. Promenade (01:58)
24. 3. Playtime (00:42)
25. 4. Bedtime story: The fairy princess (04:03)

George Gershwin
26. Promenade (Walking the dog) (1936) (03:11)
for clarinet and piano (arranged by Anthony Wakefield)
27. Lullaby (c1919-20) (07:25)
for string quartet

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Waltz & Celebration from Billy the Kid (1938)
for cello and piano, arranged by the composer
28. Celebration: Allegro (03:39)
29. Waltz: Molto moderato (02:20)


Exact Audio Copy V1.1 from 23. June 2015

EAC extraction logfile from 10. November 2015, 21:24

The Nash Ensemble / Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland - Chamber Music

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==== Log checksum 1756E9F30EB9534A248E36E1F998472E43CBFD14ACFE406623E41BE5EFEFFBB8 ====

foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2016-11-23 17:32:53

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Analyzed: Ian Brown / Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland - Chamber Music (1-18)
Marianne Thorsen, Ian Brown / Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland - Chamber Music (19-22)
Rebecca Gilliver, Ian Brown / Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland - Chamber Music (23-24)
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DR10 -0.89 dB -14.96 dB 0:55 04-Gershwin: Clap yo' hands
DR11 -0.58 dB -15.84 dB 1:07 05-Gershwin: Do-do-do
DR12 -1.75 dB -19.40 dB 1:32 06-Gershwin: Do it again
DR11 -0.16 dB -16.45 dB 0:58 07-Gershwin: Fascinating rhythm
DR12 -0.31 dB -16.39 dB 1:26 08-Gershwin: I got rhythm
DR10 -0.16 dB -14.21 dB 0:45 09-Gershwin: I'll build a stairway to paradise
DR12 -0.16 dB -17.52 dB 3:01 10-Gershwin: Liza
DR13 -2.58 dB -20.70 dB 2:13 11-Gershwin: The man I love
DR11 -1.29 dB -15.04 dB 0:56 12-Gershwin: My one & only
DR13 -3.17 dB -19.26 dB 0:59 13-Gershwin: Nobody but you
DR12 -3.05 dB -18.74 dB 1:01 14-Gershwin: Oh, lady be good
DR13 -1.46 dB -20.15 dB 1:11 15-Gershwin: Somebody loves me
DR12 -0.76 dB -15.69 dB 0:59 16-Gershwin: Strike up the band
DR11 -1.55 dB -17.47 dB 0:55 17-Gershwin: Swanee
DR12 -0.19 dB -16.18 dB 1:17 18-Gershwin: Sweet & low down
DR12 -4.42 dB -21.19 dB 1:14 19-Gershwin: 'S wonderful
DR12 -2.21 dB -18.96 dB 1:25 20-Gershwin: That certain feeling
DR12 -6.54 dB -22.81 dB 1:34 21-Gershwin: Who cares?
DR13 -0.40 dB -19.94 dB 2:12 22-Waxman: Four scenes from childhood - 1. Good morning
DR12 -0.16 dB -18.21 dB 1:59 23-Waxman: Four scenes from childhood - 2. Promenade
DR13 -1.09 dB -17.97 dB 0:43 24-Waxman: Four scenes from childhood - 3. Playtime
DR14 -0.92 dB -21.14 dB 4:03 25-Waxman: Four scenes from childhood - 4. Bedtime story: The fairy princess
DR12 -0.34 dB -18.26 dB 3:39 28-Copland: Waltz & Celebration from Billy the Kid - Celebration: Allegro
DR12 -0.15 dB -15.65 dB 2:21 29-Copland: Waltz & Celebration from Billy the Kid - Waltz: Molto moderato
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Number of tracks: 24
Official DR value: DR12

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 533 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Statistics for: 26-Gershwin: Promenade (Walking the dog)
Number of samples: 8441328
Duration: 3:11
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Left Right

Peak Value: -0.16 dB –- -0.16 dB
Avg RMS: -16.77 dB –- -17.19 dB
DR channel: 12.78 dB –- 13.23 dB
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Official DR Value: DR13

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 533 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Analyzed: The Nash Ensemble / Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland - Chamber Music
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DR12 -0.15 dB -16.78 dB 11:44 01-Herrmann: Souvenirs de voyage - 1. Lento: Molto tranquillo
DR13 -1.31 dB -19.63 dB 6:39 02-Herrmann: Souvenirs de voyage - 2. Andante: Berceuse
DR13 -2.23 dB -23.02 dB 8:11 03-Herrmann: Souvenirs de voyage - 3. Andantino: Canto amoroso
DR13 -4.58 dB -23.18 dB 7:26 27-Gershwin: Lullaby
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Number of tracks: 4
Official DR value: DR13

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 533 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================

The Nash Ensemble - American Chamber Music: Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman, Copland (2015)

All thanks to original releaser - A-Z

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