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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Sea to Shining Sea: A Tapestry of American Music
1. Sweet Betsy From Pike
2. Home on the Range
3. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
4. Let Me Call You Sweetheart
5. Oh Susannah
6. My Grandfather’s Clock
7. Bicycle Built for Two (Daisy Bell)
8. Danny Boy
9. April Showers
10. America the Beautiful
11. Aura Lee
12. You Are My Sunshine
13. In The Good Old Summertime
14. Lolly-Lou, Lolly Lee
15. Oh Shenandoah
16. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
17. The Water is Wide
18. The Band Played On
19. Circle of Life
20. Look to Tomorrow
Robin Spielberg (piano): Kate MacLeod (fiddle, guitar, vocal); Catherine Bent (cello); Nancy Rumbel (oboe, cor anglais): Paul Henle (percussion); Valerie Spielberg Kosson (marimba, bells); Brinkley Brown, Valerie Spielberg Kosson, Robin Spielberg (back-up vocals); Robin Spielberg (kalimba and additional percussion)
rec. Cedarhouse Sound and Mastering, 2010

Experience Classicsonline

Robin Spielberg is a pianist and composer, who has a sheaf of recordings to her name and is strongly active in the sphere of programmes for children and workshops and seminars. Her latest album exploits her skill at constructing romantic and enjoyable arrangements and ensuring that they are warmly textured for her ensemble. Indeed this disc is unusual in that all but two of the pieces are for ensemble, and not for solo piano. It’s a sort of ‘Songs My Grandmother Sang Me’ construct, and forms a tapestry of American music. In that spirit I should counsel attentive readers not to baulk over selections that are about as American as a walk on Hampstead Heath. These are supposed to invoke and indeed evoke the immigrant experience. Foreigners, as we know, never emigrate to America, they ‘immigrate’.

This disc has gentle charms. Sweet Betsy From Pike is notable for the commentaries of the cor anglais and cello and for its folkloric lilt. Home on the Range features, rather appropriately, the guitar, whilst My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean is a warm and generous setting, cello to the fore over a genial fiddle. Was this Scottish tune really ‘introduced to the US in 1925’ as the notes state? How do we know? By whom? Surely that date refers to a Fleischer Brothers film that featured the song. Let Me Call You Sweetheart has parlour evocations and drums to add to the rhythmic nonchalance, whilst Oh Susannah is very gently down home. There’s a rather lovely arrangement of Danny Boy, very mellifluous and engaging, and a touch of Joplin seems to infiltrate April Showers, especially with the percussion kit adding some spice. You may know Aura Lee better as ‘Love Me Tender’ and talking of which Elvis, who was a musical omnivore, would have approved of the country hues of In The Good Old Summertime and its back porch ethos. Lolly-Lou, Lolly Lee gathers in romantic amplitude whilst there’s a vocal in Oh Shenandoah, a children’s lullaby, indeed a charming Romanza. Another lullaby comes via Look to Tomorrow. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad is a nice piano solo.

Gentle charms, then, unpretentious and warmly attractive, run throughout this disc. I still don’t quite know what Danny Boy and The Water is Wide are doing here, but never mind.

Jonathan Woolf













































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