> American Anthem [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- June2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Editor-in-Chief: Rob Barnett

Popular Songs and music performed by Denyce Graves, Boston Pops Orchestra, James Galway and others.
Denyce Graves, soprano

1. American Anthem

Performed By String Quartet, David Perry, Denyce Graves
2. America the Beautiful Performed By String Quartet, David Perry, Denyce Graves
3. Star-Spangled Banner Performed By Boston Pops Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus
4. Fanfare for the Common Man

Performed By San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
5. Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing

Performed By Boston Gay Men's Chorus, Boston Pops Gospel Choir, Boston Pops
Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus
6. Shenandoah

Performed By Boston Pops Orchestra
7. America

Performed By RCA Victor Orchestra
8. Variations on a Shaker Melody ("Simple Gifts")
9. God Bless America

Performed By RCA Victor Orchestra, Florence Kopleff, Raymond Murcell
10. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Performed By Franz Rupp, Marian Anderson
11. Battle Hymn of the Republic

Performed By RCA Victor Orchestra, Thomas Pyle
12. From a Distance

Performed By Galway Pops Orchestra, James Galway, Vincent Fanuele
13. Alleluia
14. Amazing Grace

Performed By Richard Stoltzman, Irma Vallecillo
15. Lord's Prayer

Performed By String Quartet, David Perry, Denyce Graves
Rec: Unspecified.
RCA RED SEAL 63888 [60.04]
RCA BMG 09026 63888 2 [60.04]


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This represents a jumbled gallimaufrey of popular middle of the road Americana that would not shock what used to be the W.A.S.P. ascendancy.

There are a selection of modest little arrangements including one of the American Anthem, America the Beautiful sung by Graves, a string quartet (here unnamed) and David Perry's guitar. This is mournful folksy devotional stuff not helped by Denyce Graves' vibrato. I am not a great admirer of Ms Graves voice at least not when it is called on to sustain a note with any volume.

Keith Lockhart's Star Spangled Banner is here. This has the Tanglewood Festival Chorus singing with whispered sincerity accompanied by the Boston Pops. A similar, though more blatant, intensity radiates from the swinging confidence of Lift Every Voice and Sing though I think it could go more uninhibitedly. Fiedler takes Lockhart's place for a breathless Shenandoah.

After such awed reverence Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man rings out from Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. The Variations on a Shaker Melody 'Simple Gifts' is chuckled and spun by the Philharmonia Virtuosi conducted by Richard Kapp. Ernest Gold's From a Distance has Galway's flute and the Galway Pops Orchestra conducted by Vincent Fanuele in a popsy sweet-'n'-easy listening arrangement. Richard Stoltzmann and Irina Vallecillo give us a boozy bluesy version of Amazing Grace.

America (better known to Brits as God Save the Queen) is taken by the Robert Shaw Chorale and RCA Victor Symphony with Robert Shaw conducting. The Chorale are deep and rock-steady - wonderfully coached. The same forces give us God Bless America with a clunky moonlight serenade swing to it in Sing Something Simple style; this will mean something to BBC Radio 2 listeners. In the Battle Hymn of the Republic: Glory glory hallelujah is given stentorian resolve and a very four-square swing.

Marian Anderson's darkly masculine-accented voice is accompanied by Franz Rupp in He's got the whole world in his hands. In religious vein the Alleluia by crack choral and symphonic composer, Randall Thompson is sung with reserved ecclesiastical tone similar to the sound of Rutter.

The words are not printed.

A contrasted collection of American Classics predominantly choral, or at least vocal.
Rob Barnett

Proceeds from the sale of this CD will be donated to the American Red Cross

See also review by Kirk McElhearn

A contrasted collection of American popular classics predominantly choral or at least vocal. ... see Full Review

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