ClassicsOnline Home » Orchestral Music - IVES, C. / PERSICHETTI, V. / HARRIS, R. / BACON, E. / GOULD, M. / McKAY, G.F. / TUROK, P. (Lincoln Portraits) (Slatkin) > Review List

Orchestral Music - IVES, C. / PERSICHETTI, V. / HARRIS, R. / BACON, E. / GOULD, M. / McKAY, G.F. / TUROK, P. (Lincoln Portraits) (Slatkin)

Period(s) 20th CenturyContemporary
Genre Classical Music
Category Choral - SecularOrchestralVocal
Catalogue 8.559373-74
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
Download and Stream

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth President of the United States, has inspired many works of literature, art and music. To celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, the Nashville Symphony, Leonard Slatkin and Naxos have selected eight important works by leading American composers, some setting Lincoln’s own immortal words, some words of poets inspired by him, others based on Lincoln’s life and ideals. Turok’s Variations on an American Song: Aspects of Lincoln and Liberty is based on a folk tune Lincoln used as a campaign song, Rosin the Bow.


Review By David Denton,Naxos,March 2009

A momentous addition to the catalogue of American music, the release rather creeping onto the international market when it should be receiving a massive fanfare of trumpets. The two discs contain eight works, all inspired by Abraham Lincoln and now gathered together to mark the bicentennial of his birth. The first disc open’s with a choral work by Charles Ives, Lincoln, the Great Commoner, using Edwin Markham’s poem extoling Lincoln’s idealism. Vincent Persichetti’s musical backdrop to the words of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address—here ideally spoken by Barry Scott—is a sombre comment that only occasionally underlines words with sounds of impact. The most strange track comes from Roy Harris’s Abraham an eerie poem by Vachel Lindsay, sung by a mezzo-soprano with a piano trio accompaniment. Ernst Bacon, conductor, painter and folk-song collector, had provided incidental music for Paul Horgan’s play, Death, Mr. President, but when it proved a flop, Bacon extracted twelve orchestral cameos to create Ford’s Theatre: A few Glimpses of Easter Week, 1865. Thosemusical pictures lead up to Lincoln’s assassination in the theatre. Completed in 1941 when war time emotions ran high, Morton Gould’s Lincoln’s Legend include snatches of well-known American tunes that fragment the score to the point that it lacks cohesion and ends up as pastiche. Still Gould was a master of multicolored orchestral scoring which here proves rather irresistible. George McKay’s To a Liberator (A Lincoln Tribute) comes from the same era, but set out to achieve something far more serious in pointing to the power of democracy. Paul Turok is best known as a record critic, having founded the publication Turok’s Choice, but has also been active as a composer. His Variations on an American Song: Aspects of Lincoln and Liberty, is a most interesting exercise in the art of ‘variations’. The disc ends with Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, one of his best known scores, two orchestral sections picturing Lincoln preceding a musical setting of a spoken text using Lincoln’s profound words. The performances are proof of Leonard Slatkin’s meticulous preparation of the Nashville Symphony, the orchestra responding to the momentous nature of the release with superb playing. The sound quality shares this sense of occasion.



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