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Rainbow Body - Barber, Copland, Higdon, Theofanidis / Spano


Release Date: 05/27/2003 
Label:  Telarc   Catalog #: 80596   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Samuel BarberAaron CoplandChris TheofanidisJennifer Higdon
Conductor:  Robert Spano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


This new Telarc disc sandwiches the familiar Barber Symphony and Copland Appalachian Spring between two exciting new orchestral compositions. This sequence is of no small importance, as Robert Spano has carefully planned the program so that each piece reflects on the previous one and then introduces the next. Christopher Theofanidis' Rainbow Body opens with groggy cello murmurings accented by woodwind flourishes that seem to stir the entire orchestra out of its slumber before the serenely confident main theme appears. It's a beautiful melody that communicates a sense of expectation, and Theofanidis can't resist playing it again at every conceivable opportunity (sort of like what Hanson does in his
Read more Second Symphony). This is interspersed with more dramatic sections highlighted by some spectacular percussion writing, all of which builds to a full-orchestra climax, ending the piece in a splendid shower of brass and crashing tam-tam. Barber's Symphony No. 1 follows immediately, and its turbulent opening seems to cast grave doubts on Theofanidis' blazing affirmation. However, there's no doubt about Spano's performance, as he leads the Atlanta Symphony in a powerfully cogent reading with generous servings of hearty and finely wrought string playing.


The pastoral sounds of Appalachian Spring's opening signal yet another shift in mood for the program's second half. Spano's lean and rhythmically taut interpretation, alongside the Atlanta Symphony's impressive playing, makes this one of the finest accounts around, comparable to the composer's own classic reading with the Boston Symphony. Copland's piece ends with the quiet sound of small bells--and it's bell sounds that open Jennifer Higdon's Blue Cathedral, an imaginary journey through a mid-air glass church, a literal "vault of heaven". She helps us to visualize her imaginings by employing orchestral sound-imagery that is as celestial as it is vivid. Higdon's neo-romantic musical language occasionally brings to mind some of John Adams' more transcendent passages, but the style is all her own, refreshingly original, and makes for a blissful and satisfying close to the program.


Spano and his Atlanta players take to both Higdon's and Theofanidis' works with tangible enthusiasm, performing with as much confidence and polish as they would a Mahler symphony. Telarc captures it all in clear, high-powered, state-of-the-art sound. So it doesn't matter if you already own recordings of the Barber or the Copland; you'll hear them afresh on this captivating disc--one that offers a rewarding and enriching experience for anyone with even the slightest interest in something new, or in new ways of listening to the tried and true. [5/24/2003]
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1, Op. 9 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Robert Spano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia 
Length: 20 Minutes 13 Secs. 
2.
Appalachian Spring: Suite by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Robert Spano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943-1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia 
Length: 23 Minutes 20 Secs. 
3.
Rainbow Body by Chris Theofanidis
Conductor:  Robert Spano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 2000; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia 
Length: 12 Minutes 56 Secs. 
4.
Blue Cathedral by Jennifer Higdon
Conductor:  Robert Spano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Date of Recording: 2002 
Venue:  Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia 
Length: 12 Minutes 19 Secs. 

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