American Ballads; Foster Gallery; American
Theodore Kuchar conducts the
National Symphony Orchestra of the
NAXOS American Classics
Multi-talented, Morton Gould was a composer, conductor, arranger and
orchestrator, and pianist. He wrote in a wide variety of musical forms from
ballet to Broadway and from classical orchestral works to film and television
scores. He scored the films Delightfully Dangerous, Windjammer and
Cinerama Holiday plus the TV films such as Verdun, The World of
Music and Holocaust.
Gould's music is vividly coloured and melodic. The works on this album express
his deep love for his homeland. One feels that each work would be very effective
as source music for films. American Ballads composed in 1976 is an
affectionate tribute, in brilliant sympathetic variation form, to some very
familiar ballads including America the Beautiful and The Star Spangled
Banner. The musical styles include 'mid-western, Copland pastoral', the
beautifully mournful Taps in 'Memorials' with its concluding military
salutes, the gospel-rooted We Shall Overcome and the sparkling,
exhilarating, jazzy take of the The Girl I Left behind Me in the Saratoga
Foster Gallery, from 1939, was dedicated to Fritz Reiner who suggested
its composition. It is another brilliantly coloured confection based on the
songs and dances of Stephen Foster - some well-known others being used here
for the first time since their initial publication. Foster Gallery
is cast in variation form and shares some characteristics with Mussorgsky's
Pictures at an Exhibition. It opens with Camptown Races and
this theme recurs as a variation section throughout the work linking it together
much like the Promenade in the Mussorgsky composition. Humour, quirkiness
and sentimentality all rub shoulders in this attractive and lively piece.
Foster songs treated include a warbling Swanee River, a nostalgic,
sweet Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair with a slight twist of irony,
and a grand high-spirited Oh Susanna as a vivacious finale.
Gould's American Salute - his most popular work - is a glorious symphonic
treatment of When Johnny Comes Marching Home and it is a rip-roaring
conclusion to this concert.
The music is played with great vivacity by the Russians and you would swear
they came from Utah rather than the Ukraine.