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Leaving Home - Music In The 20th Century 5 - The American Way

City Of Birmingham So / Rattle
Release Date: 10/18/2005 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 102041  
Composer:  George GershwinCharles IvesJohn CageElliott Carter,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Rattle’s 1996 series Leaving Home – Orchestral Music in the 20th Century is slowly making its way onto DVD. Volume 1 (Dancing on a Volcano - review) is now followed by volumes 4 and 5, but don’t worry – there was no chronology in Rattle’s approach, and all were self-contained programmes, so an order really doesn’t exist, except in the dates they were first broadcast.

I am an ardent fan of Rattle and greatly enjoyed this series first time round, so I suppose I should get my moans out of the way to start with. Why are Arthaus only giving us one episode per (quite expensive) disc? Shorn of the adverts, they are barely 50 minutes long, so two or even three could easily be accommodated on a single DVD. It’s obviously down to
Read more making more money out of us, and we could perhaps forgive them if there were a host of extras. In fact, the ‘bonus material’ is simply audio tracks of some of the music featured, (admittedly in complete performances but very ordinary sound) and cheaply reproduced composer biographies and photos, neither of which is likely to sway a prospective buyer...

As for the programmes themselves, I’ve nothing but praise for Rattle’s easy, authoritative camera manner, the superb choice of music and soloists and the general quality of the concept and presentation...

If anything, The American Way packs even more into its modest time span, Rattle giving us a useful overview of the musical birth of a nation. I like his opening morsel; ‘If European art was a very long, marinated casserole, then American art is the fastest, most brilliant stir-fry’. We kick off with the tracing of black culture and influence, jazz and tin-pan alley, culminating in a superbly idiomatic big-band Rhapsody in Blue extract from Wayne Marshall. Other highlights include a tantalizingly brief snippet from the original Martha Graham choreography for Appalachian Spring and a healthy chunk of Ives’s Decoration Day, played against suitably evocative shots of New England countryside and townships. Rattle really gets into his stride when moving on to the post-war period, particularly the contribution of Cage and Feldman. He plays percussion in the decent-sized slice of First Construction in Metal, as well as a short but energetic rendition of Riley’s In C. He tries hard to encapsulate the complexities of Elliott Carter’s fanfare A Celebration of Some 100x150 Notes (1987, not 1969 as the caption says) and finishes with a beautifully gauged rendition of part of Harmonium, John Adams’s setting of Emily Dickinson. Rattle obviously sees the path from the simplicities of Feldman to the eclectic minimalism of Adams as a perfectly logical one, something I would not argue with.

So, if you admired these illustrated talks first time round, you won’t need any persuading to get them in better quality picture and sound. The caveats are there, but the power and persuasion of Rattle in this sort of repertoire is pretty unbeatable.

-- Tony Haywood, MusicWeb International


Time: 50+ min
Picture Format: 4:3
Sound Format: PCM Stereo
Region Code: 0
Release Date: 2005
Language: German, English
Menu Languages NTSC: German, French, English
Subtitle Languages NTSC: French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish

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Works on This Recording

1.
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
2.
Holidays: Decoration Day by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; USA 
3.
First Construction (in Metal) for 6 Percussionists by John Cage
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USA 
4.
Celebration of some 100 x 150 notes by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986 
5.
Madame Press Died Last Week at 90 by Morton Feldman
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; USA 
6.
In C by Terry Riley
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USA 
7.
Harmonium by John Adams
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1980; USA 
8.
Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943-1944; USA 
9.
Street Scene: Lonely house by Kurt Weill
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
10.
West Side Story: Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 

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