Barber, Gershwin, Carmichael, Chadwick, Foote, Carpenter & Canning

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Barber,Carmichael,Carpenter & Canning,Chadwick,Foote,Gershwin
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: American Dreams
WORKS: Works by Barber, Gershwin, Carmichael, Chadwick, Foote, Carpenter & Canning
PERFORMER: Indianapolis SO/Raymond Leppard
CATALOGUE NO: 458 157-2
Though it includes a performance of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings which wins no prizes for magic or finesse, this disc is valuable for its honest and idiomatic accounts of mostly slow and, indeed, dreamy music by other Americans – most of them older than Barber – who are generally little known outside, and even inside, the USA. George Chadwick’s Noël (from his Symphonic Sketches of 1895) and two movements – Pizzicato and Adagietto – from Arthur Foote’s Suite in E major for Strings follow mainstream Romantic models with likeable candour. John Alden Carpenter’s Sea Drift (1933) is a more ambitious, somewhat Debussy-like evocation of Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name.


Thomas Canning’s Fantasy on a Hymn Tune of (or by; both are given) Justin Morgan proves to be a skilful and charming pastiche on Vaughan Williams’ sTallis Fantasia. Finally, pieces by George Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael represent less familiar sides of these composers’ ‘serious’ aspirations. Both the former’s Lullaby for String Orchestra and the latter’s ‘Prayer and Cathedral Vision’ (from Carmichael’s Johnny Appleseed Suite, orchestrated by other hands – as the Gerswhin probably is) are affecting but not especially memorable. While often informative, Byron Adams’ booklet notes fail to give dates for four of these seven compositions. Keith Potter