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Varèse: Orchestral Works Vol 2


Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557882   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Edgard Varèse
Performer:  Thomas BlochElizabeth WattsChristopher Lyndon-GeeMaria Grochowska
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony OrchestraMen's Voices of the Camerata Silesia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This recording of Amèriques is unique in that it uses the original version for 155 players. Following the piece with the revised score in hand turns out to be quite a trip as Varèse made a great many changes, too many to go into here. Listeners familiar with the revised version will notice many new colors in the original, including the frequent presence of offstage brass, major shifts in dynamics, lots of altered percussion, and a totally different ending. The music leading up to that exotic "belly dance" in the woodwinds has been completely recomposed in spots, and the piece generally is less continuous, more kaleidoscopic. Varèse left us so little music that I hesitate to come down strongly in favor of one Read more version over the other--it's great to have both--though if forced to choose it seems to me that the revised ending is even more exciting, its overall impression more powerful despite the slightly smaller forces required.

Certainly it would be difficult to find a more effective champion of this juggernaut of a piece than Christopher Lyndon-Gee. In his Rochberg recordings, also for Naxos, he has demonstrated am impressive ability to control large forces and shape complex textures in a way that always sounds purposeful and expressive. So it is here, not just in Amèriques, but also in Ecuatorial, Nocturnal, and above all Ionisation, which sounds amazingly nuanced, even dance-like in this interpretation. No matter how freaky Varèse gets (and in Ecuatorial especially the answer is "very"), Lyndon-Gee never seems to be trading expressivity and naturalness for mere precision; accuracy is a given, not an end in itself. The remaining works on the disc include Varèse's earliest surviving piece, the song Un grand sommeil noir, very nicely sung by Elizabeth Watts, as well as a notably pure, limpid version of Density 21.5, one of the 20th-century's masterpieces for solo flute.

As with many other Naxos releases from Poland (including Antoni Wit's largely excellent series of recordings), the engineering is warmly vivid within an ample acoustic that perhaps diffuses the impact of the brass and percussion just a bit, if never troublingly. Certainly it gives a good idea of the huge forces required for Amèriques. The men's voices of the Camerata Silesia also come off as just a bit tame and "choir-like" for the primal music of Ecuatorial, but in all ways that matter significantly, this is an outstanding release, and one of self-evident importance to Varèse admirers.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Amériques by Edgard Varèse
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1918-21; USA 
Length: 23 Minutes 55 Secs. 
2. Ecuatorial by Edgard Varèse
Performer:  Thomas Bloch (Ondes Martenot)
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra,  Men's Voices of the Camerata Silesia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933-1934; USA 
Length: 10 Minutes 27 Secs. 
3. Nocturnal by Edgard Varèse
Performer:  Elizabeth Watts (Soprano)
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra,  Men's Voices of the Camerata Silesia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; USA 
Length: 9 Minutes 24 Secs. 
4. Dance for Burgess by Edgard Varèse
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
5. Tuning Up! by Edgard Varèse
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 50 Secs. 
6. Hyperprism by Edgard Varèse
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1922-3 
Length: 3 Minutes 48 Secs. 
7. Un grand sommeil noir by Edgard Varèse
Performer:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee (Piano), Elizabeth Watts (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1906; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 59 Secs. 
8. Density 21.5 by Edgard Varèse
Performer:  Maria Grochowska (Flute)
Written: 1936 
Length: 4 Minutes 43 Secs. 
9. Ionisation by Edgard Varèse
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1931; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 24 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Ameriques (original version): Ameriques
Ecuatorial
Nocturnal
Dance for Burgess (arr. Chou Wen-Chung): Dance for Burgess
Tuning Up (completed by Chou Wen-chung)
Hyperprism
Un grand sommeil noir
Density 21. 5: Density 21.5
Ionisation

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